The Formal Business Voice is Dead – The Content Wrangler

Shelly Davies discusses the death of the formal business voice and the need for conversational content that provides clarity, transparency, and empathy.

Source: The Formal Business Voice is Dead – The Content Wrangler

This is a great guest article from The Content Wrangler.  As the digital age has progressed, the more conversational tone has taken over in order to make communications more user-friendly.  Ms. Davies does a great job talking about the differences between formal business voice and conversational voice in this article.

I would, however, add that I slightly disagree that a formal business tone be abandoned altogether except in highly serious situations.  One of the things that really bothers me in digital communications–or even cold-calls that I receive–is familiar, conversational tones from a stranger. Sometimes, it gets to be TOO informal.  Call me old fashioned, but I think there’s an in-between level whereby you can use a more conversational tone yet keep things sounding (or reading) like a professional. If you sound like a kid trying to hawk goods or get on your good side, that’s a big turn-off for me. If you sound like you mean business without the “fancy” words, then I’ll definitely listen to you or read what you have to say. Finding that middle ground is a little difficult, and it takes practice, but it can be done.  I’d like to think that it’s almost taking a diplomatic tone, if you want to call it that. You speak using words that everyone can understand, but on terms that also been that you are serious and focused on the message at hand.

What do you think about the use of formal business tone versus an informal tone in digital communications, whether it is an email or a webpage? Include your comments below.


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All or nothing | Leading Technical Communication

All or nothing. It seems to be the way of the world. But it’s no way to manage your career. In baseball, a home run is the best thing you can do as a hitter. You take a big swing, you feel th…

Source: All or nothing | Leading Technical Communication

Larry Kunz writes an excellent article today on his blog, which I think reflects my own experiences as well.  The job market has been crazy for several years now, and the one question I’m constantly asking myself is, “What can I learn next? What skill am I missing? What do I need to learn to make myself more viable as a serious job candidate?”  I’ve often made the argument that specialization is not good, but rather being a generalist is–or a specialist in multiple areas. In this article, Larry appears to be making the same argument from his experiences. This is especially important as technical communicators, when the parameters of what technical communication is seems to be constantly shifting around as technology and digital needs change.

I feel that “all or nothing” that Larry describes often. That’s why I’m constantly trying to figure out how to find some new pitching strategies to make me an ace pitcher, so to speak.

What do you think? Generalist or specialist? Include your comments below.


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The Complete Guide to Working On A Remote Team – Megan Berry – Medium

The secret to increasing productivity, work–life balance, and team happiness

Source: The Complete Guide to Working On A Remote Team – Megan Berry – Medium

Thanks to Adam Helweh of Secret Sushi for finding this gem. And oh–what a gem this is!  I think this is probably the best article I’ve ever read that discusses the advantages of working remotely. I’ve been working remotely on and off (mostly on) for the past five years.  I LOVE working remotely, for all the reasons listed in this article. The methods mentioned in this article are along the same lines of what I’ve practiced for years successfully, and I can endorse and validate everything that’s said in this article. Working remotely CAN be done, if it’s done in an organized manner, the work is still taken seriously and done well, and you maintain your communication skills. It’s no different working out of your house as it is your office if you are communicating with other team members or clients around the world! It’s still a conference call, or email, or instant messaging, or video calls, no matter the location! It’s the 21st century already! More companies need to get on board with this, especially for technical communicators!

If you are looking for a remote worker, I’m available right now! You can visit to learn more about what I can offer.

What do you think about the perspective of this article’s author? Include your comments below.


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15 Subway Maps Compared to Their Actual Geography «TwistedSifter

Reddit community ‘Data is Beautiful’ created a series of animations comparing subway maps to their actual geography

Source: 15 Subway Maps Compared to Their Actual Geography «TwistedSifter


I found this article thanks to my husband’s cousin, who is a world traveler and a map buff.  You should really take a look!

When I took Visual Design courses in grad school, this was an example of how user experience design can make a difference in helping users know how to use the subway–wherever it was. The original London Underground map that kicked it off (I believe it was them) was genius, because the creator realized that creating something that looked more like a grid than the actual geography would be easier for people to understand.  Obviously, this style of design was copied for other metro systems, and it’s been helpful for all these cities.  This article shows the differences between what the UX design maps are versus the real maps of the same metro lines. Fascinating!

What are some other great uses of UX design that don’t mimic the actual thing? Include your comments below.


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Why So Few Women Break Through Tech’s Bro Culture – Bloomberg

Silicon Valley prides itself on its progressive views on climate change, same-sex marriage, transgender rights and other cultural issues. Why does it have such trouble with gender equality?

Source: Why So Few Women Break Through Tech’s Bro Culture – Bloomberg

This is a very interesting article to read. Technical communications is probably considered a STEM-related field in that, for many, there are science, tech, and engineering aspects of their jobs.  It’s thought that women actually dominate this field more than men, although I don’t have the stats to back up that rumor–I know I’ve heard it. With the STC, the top leadership is definitely dominated by women, which is a good counterpoint to the rest of the STEM world.  But I do wonder if there are still pay discrepancies between male and female technical communicators, and whether there are still biases against female technical communicators in the STEM fields at large.  It seems to me that while technical communications may lead the way in gender equality, I don’t know of proof that this is, indeed, the case.  I wonder if it also affects different aspects of tech comm. For example, are there more male or female UX/UI designers and writers? Are there more female or male content strategists? How about API writers?

I don’t know the answers. I wish I did. I just know that where I am, and from my experience, women still have a ways to go, and thankfully, tech comm is one of the more progressive fields, from my view, in terms of gender equality–or at least making it a field much more so.

What do you think? Include your comments below.


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How These Remote Workers Convinced Their Bosses And Clients They Can Work From Anywhere

It actually took less effort than you might think—here’s why.

Source: How These Remote Workers Convinced Their Bosses And Clients They Can Work From Anywhere

This is an interesting article. They only interviewed three people, so I don’t think this is totally representative of the capabilities of remote workers.  I can completely understand the viewpoint of establishing yourself and making the face-to-face connections when possible.  It definitely helps in personalizing things. But what if you don’t have that kind of flexibility? One of the workers worked in the office for three months full-time, then part-time for another three, and only after six months were they able to establish that they could work effectively from home.  The problem with this is that those people who work far away from jobs (like me) can’t leave home for those kinds of long stretches.  I’ve never objected to going on the job interview, or spending a few days at the beginning of a gig for orientation and meeting people purposes, or even going into the office either once a month or a shortened day (due to commuting) once a week (depending on the job).

The biggest problem is what is said towards the end of the article–HR people and managers who have been burned or are nervous or are micromanagers tend to be the ones who can’t deal with remote work. A large segment of the kind of work that technical communicators create doesn’t require us being in the office all the time.  Most of the jobs I’ve had in the last five years were remote positions–some were remote purposely. Due to Skype, WebEx, email, Google chats, instant messaging, and oh yeah, the telephone, work still got done globally. I’d be talking to people in India, Germany, Canada, and around different parts of the U.S., as well as other parts of the world from time to time. It doesn’t matter if you are in the company office or your home office if you are making those connections.

There will come a time that, as one of my mentors told me one time, that companies in cities will realize that the best talent is not right by them, and it’s not going to move to them, so they need to start reaching out and finding the appropriate talent they need. By offering remote options–full-time remote options–they will start getting the best talent to work for them. They will not have to pay for much of the overhead that is needed to house people in an office. The work-life balance will be better for many workers who choose this option.

We still have a long way to go in realizing remote work as a viable option.

What do you think? Include your comments below.


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English is Dumb (VIDEO)

My husband, who is not a native English speaker (although he reads, writes, and speaks English better than some native speakers), always likes to poke fun at the English language every chance he can get. I suppose it’s because he still makes the occasional mistake now and then, and he knows I’ll correct him. 😉

Today, he sent me this little video.  Enjoy.

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