When a (presentation) disaster strikes  Clip to Evernote

There’s a moment that everyone who presents or speaks in public fears. And I entered that moment during a presentation last week.

I went blank.

Stage fright. Freezing up. A very pregnant pause. None of those terms really sum up what happened to me during that talk. I went all tabula. As in rasa. It wasn’t pleasant, for me or for my audience.

Here’s a look at what happened, and what I learned from the experience.

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Sprinting to a manual  Clip to Evernote

As you may or may not know, I helped organize a two-day FLOSS Manuals book sprint at this year’s Toronto Open Source Week (held at Seneca College).

If you’re not familiar with a book sprint, read this for details.

This book sprint came about because:

  1. For the last two years, I’ve been promising Adam Hyde (head honcho of the FLOSS Manuals project) that I’d take a more active part in a book sprint
  2. I thought that this would be an interesting event to hold at Toronto Open Source Week

This time around, the goal was to complete a manual for the Mozilla Thunderbird email client. I hosted the book sprint in Toronto, and Adam Hyde took overall control from Berlin (where he lives).

It was an interesting two days, to say the least. Here’s a summary of what went down.

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Dealing with acronyms and jargon  Clip to Evernote

Jargon. Acronyms. They’re everywhere. Yes, even in technical communication.

Jargon and acronyms have helped bloat the English language and contributed to a level of obfuscation and confusion that’s deeper than an unknown foreign language. In fact, people who overuse jargon and acronyms often sound like they’re speaking a foreign tongue. Or just speaking in tongues …

As technical writers, we regularly run into this. I sure do. Worse, we can’t seem to escape jargon or acronyms.

But that doesn’t mean we have to put up with either. We can do a lot to minimize the amount of jargon and the number of acronyms in what we write. By doing so, we can make what they’re trying to convey clearer for any reader.

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