• Preparing English Technical Documents for International Readers
  • How to Write a Usable User's Manual
  • How to Write a Winning Technical Proposal
  • Usability Testing for Technical Communicators
  • Elements of Winning Proposals
  • About the Lecturer
  • Satisfied Clients

  • Improve Your Writing Skills
    Ed Weiss Ph.D.




    Elements of Winning Proposals

    (A 1-day Course)


    Who Should Attend
    Technical professionals who manage, direct, write, or edit technical proposals especially internal proposals/plans/recommendations.

    Need
    Technical professionals must be able to write proposals that win acceptance and funding. Yet, this topic is generally lacking from their training. This course explores the components needed in a well-made proposal. The emphasis is on internal proposals, generally small enough to be prepared by one author. The theme of the course is that every page of a well-made proposal must contribute to the sales strategy.

    Objectives
    Participants will be able to:
  • Describe and outline the major components in a successful technical proposal
  • Revise and edit poorly prepared proposal materials

    Outline
  • Objectives and Issues
  • Ten Requirements for a Winning Technical Proposal
  • Components in a Full Technical Proposal
  • The Summary--"Why You?"
  • The Technical Component--Demonstrating Superior Skills
  • The Management Component--Demonstrating Character and Competence
  • Final Project: Proposal Core for a Real Product .... or Service





    Usability Testing for Technical Communicators

    (1 day)


    The Need
    Usability testing is a process in which developers and technical communicators ensure that their products, system and documentation are as easy to use, as intuitive and reliable, as possible. Usability testing is formal, an integral part of the production cycle.

    Outline
  • Gain a competitive advantage over less usable competing productss
  • Ensure customer satisfaction and loyalty
  • Protect the developer from certain safety and liability issues

    Subjects
  • Defining Usability-Ease of Use, Appropriateness, MTBF
  • Usability as a Product Differentiator
  • Usability as a Safety/Liability Issue
  • Measuring Usability-Observation techniques, field study, content analysis of service problems
  • Setting up a Usability Laboratory
  • Writing Usability standards
  • Testing the Usability of Setup Instructions
  • Testing the Usability of a Procedural Manual
  • Testing the Usability of a Reference Manual
  • Testing the Usability of A User Interface
  • Testing the Usability of an Online HELP Utility
  • Issues: Usability testing in the product/production schedule




    Preparing English Technical Documents
    for International Readers

    (and for Translation)


    Who Should Attend
    Persons who write or edit English-language documents for international readers, or for translation. The primary audience is those who prepare business and technical communications.

    The Need
    While there are about 400 million people who speak English as their first language, there are about 800 billion who speak it as a second or "foreign" language. This gradual emergence of English as a global language, especially in business and technical communication, has made many English-speakers somewhat complacent about their writing. The result is that too much English-language material is unnecessarily difficult for international readers. Furthermore, the elements that make it hard to read make it harder-less reliable-to translate.

    Objectives
    The aim of this course is to teach a small set of essential principles. Participants will learn to produce documents that are:
  • Extremely simple and readable
  • Free from error-causing vocabulary, idioms, punctuation, and syntax
  • Free from distracting cultural errors and insensitivity
  • Adapted to local communication cultures

    Outline
    The course will be interactive, with about 50% of the time spent on real editing exercises.

    1. International English: Standards and Styles
  • Uncontrolled, natural English is unacceptable for international communication
  • Uncontrolled natural English is unreliable in translation
  • English can be an effective lingua franca only if used with sensitivity to the culture
        of the audience

    2. Strategy 1: Extreme Simplicity and Clarity
  • Raising the bar for technical precision and understandability to a higher standard
  • Adopting a Basic, Plain, or Simplified language product
  • Applying strict readability limits

    3. Strategy 2: Eliminating Error-Makers
  • Vocabulary and idiom
  • Syntax and punctuation
  • Measurement conventions

    4. Strategy 3: Eliminating Inappropriate Culture-Markers
  • Culture-charged language
  • Attitudes toward the reader
  • Problems of "context" and communication cultures

    5. Strategy 4: Local Adaptation
  • Beyond translation
  • Alternative models of communication

    6. Strategy 5: Replacing Prose
  • Lists, steps, and tables
  • Maps, scripts and structured prose
  • Decision diagrams

    7. Final Questions: Issues for the Post-Modern Technical Communicator




    How to Write a Usable User's Manual

    Who Should Attend
    Anyone responsible for user documentation: manuals, guides, tutorials, training programs. Novices or experienced technical writers. Persons charged with producing standards for documentation.

    The Need
    Many users' manuals and operations guides are inaccessible and unreadable. Even the best hardware and software companies distribute publications far below the quality of their products. Sometimes, even very good systems are rendered unworkable or uncompetitive by incomplete or unusable documentation.
    Most manuals are written by people with little or no experience in user documentation. Indeed, even professional technical writers are often stumped by the peculiar problems of this medium.
    At the same time, there have been great strides in the science of writing and documentation: usability testing, readability research, as well as in the technology and tools available to writers: publishing systems, style- software, hypertext.

    Objectives
    This course is built on the premise that effective-"usable"-user documentation must be designed and tested, not just "written". It argues that a guide or manual is a device, and, therefore, that it must be "engineered" to support the reader.
    This course, suitable for both novice and experienced documentors, also explores the new notion of task-oriented user documentation-the emerging standard for the 90s-and the relationship between books and "online documentation". [NOTE: The course syllabus is based on How to Write Usable User Documentation, by Edmond H. Weiss (Oryx Press 1991)]

    Outline
    The course will be interactive, with about 50% of the time spent on real editing exercises.

    1. The Need: How User Manuals Succeed or Fail
    The most common flaws and their consequences
    The differences between acceptable and excellent publications

    2. Documentation is a System; Manuals Work Like Programs
    What makes a system usable?
    What makes a manual usable?
    How to "engineer"

    3. Functions: What User Manuals Do
    The four functions
    The main Audiences and readers
    Aligning manuals with their readers
    The concept of User Support Technology

    4. A Process for Developing Usable User Documentation
  • Planning/Analysis/Specification
        Assigning the documentation chores
        Defining topics and Audiences
        Task-analysis as the basis of topics
        X-Y readers and the differing needs
        Preparing the user support plan
  • Outline/Design/Alpha Test
        Outlining (the conventional way)
        Modularizing ("quantizing" the outline)
            modules that motivate the reluctant user
            modules that orient the novice
            modules that guide the competent user
            modules for reference and quick-reference
        Conducting a storyboard session
        Testing the design
  • Assembling/Writing/Editing/Beta Test
        Assembling the draft "to spec"
        Editing for clarity and readability
        ten ways to write an unclear instruction
        replacing prose with diagrams and structured text
        software tools for writers
  • Introduction to Usability Testing





    How to Write a Winning Technical Proposal

    (Two-day for corporate in-house sessions only)


    Who Should Attend
    Technical professionals who manage, direct, write, or edit competitive proposals in response to RFPs.

    Scope
    This course addresses the full range of proposals, with an emphasis on external, competitive proposals in response to RFPs or other tender documents. It presumes that the proposal will involve a group of authors working as a team. The theme of the course is that every page of a well-made proposal must contribute to the sales strategy.

    Objectives
    Participants will be able to:
  • Describe/demonstrate the main skills of technical selling
  • Discuss the elements involved in screening and qualifying prospective proposals
  • Analyze a tender/RFP
  • Describe and outline the major components in a technical proposal
  • Describe and demonstrate the major phases in proposal preparation
  • Revise and edit poorly prepared proposal materials
  • Prepare a ''proposal core'' for a real product or service
  • Adapted to local communication cultures

    Outline
  • Objectives and Concepts
  • Seminar Objectives: What You Need to Know
  • The Vocabulary of Proposals: The Glossary of Technical Selling
  • Conflicting Conceptions of the Proposal
  • The Proposal Domain: Money Isn't Everything
  • The Proposal Loop: Marketing versus Merchandising
  • Features vs. Benefits: The Eight Motivators for Buying
  • Win Theory: Without Differentiation, No Sale

    Nine Requirements for a Winning Technical Proposal
  • Project 1: Criteria
  • The Nine Requirements for a Winning Proposal

    Components in a Full Technical Proposal
  • The Structure of Technical Proposals
  • Each Component Contributes to the Sale

    Front Matter-Engaging the Sponsor
  • Elements of the Front Matter: Attention & Impression
  • Summary: Point of Attack and Differentiation
  • Exhibit: One-Page Summary
  • The Proposal Theme: Why You?
  • Project 2: Define the Theme of Your Proposal
  • Project 3: List the Main Selling Points

    The Technical Component-Inevitability and Insight
  • Structure of the Technical Component: The Inevitable Plan
  • Elements of the Technical Component: Demonstrating Insight

    The Management Component-Character and Competence
  • Structure of the Management Component: Depth & Control
  • Elements of the Management Component: Proving Character

    The Business/Cost Component-Proving Value
  • Elements of the Business Component: Establishing Value
  • Pricing Strategies: Finding the Winning Price
  • Justifications for High Cost: What the Customer is Paying For
  • The Financial Timeline: Making Prices More Attractive

    The Proposal Process
  • The Proposal Process Overview: Work Breakdown
  • Customer Intelligence: The RFP is Never Enough
  • Lead Screening: To Win, You Must Pick Winners
  • Project 4: Evaluate a Lead
  • Analyzing the RFP: Directives, Criteria, Clues
  • Bidders Conferences: Casing the Competition
  • Developing the Proposal Core/Directive: Marching Orders
  • Outlining and Storyboarding: Building a Model
  • Topical Outlines versus Substantive Outlines
  • Exhibit: Topical Outlines vs. Substantive
  • Project 5: Write Some Substantive Headings
  • The Modular Proposal: A Series of Thematic Essays
  • "Chunking": Substantive Headings into Modular headings
  • Project 6: Write Some Modular Headings
  • Project 7: Write Part of a Proposal Core
  • Preparing a Module Spec
  • Exhibit; Thematic Table of Contents
  • Project 8: Write a Module Spec
  • Editing Drafts: Eight Barriers to Clarity
  • Project 9: Editing Sentences for Clarity & Impact
  • Use Style-Checking Software
  • Designing Accessible Pages
  • Exhibit: Inaccessible Page
  • Exhibit: Accessible Page
  • Designing Readable CVs
  • Red Team Evaluations: Combat-Testing the Proposal
  • Endgame: It's Not Nearly Over Yet

    The Proposal Organization
  • Alternative Ways to Set-up a Proposal Organization
  • Files and Data Bases
  • Contents of the Corporate Proposal Manual

    Closing Thoughts
  • Project 10: Planning Next Steps
  • Final Checklist




    Elements of Winning Proposals

    (A 1-day Course)


    Who Should Attend
    Technical professionals who manage, direct, write, or edit technical proposals especially internal proposals/plans/recommendations.

    Need
    Technical professionals must be able to write proposals that win acceptance and funding. Yet, this topic is generally lacking from their training. This course explores the components needed in a well-made proposal. The emphasis is on internal proposals, generally small enough to be prepared by one author. The theme of the course is that every page of a well-made proposal must contribute to the sales strategy.

    Objectives
    Participants will be able to:
  • Describe and outline the major components in a successful technical proposal
  • Revise and edit poorly prepared proposal materials

    Outline
  • Objectives and Issues
  • Ten Requirements for a Winning Technical Proposal
  • Components in a Full Technical Proposal
  • The Summary--"Why You?"
  • The Technical Component--Demonstrating Superior Skills
  • The Management Component--Demonstrating Character and Competence
  • Final Project: Proposal Core for a Real Product .... or Service





    Edmond H. Weiss, Ph.D.


    Edmond H. Weiss, Ph.D., is president of Edmond Weiss Consulting and Associate Professor of Communications at Fordham University's Graduate School of Business Administration. At Fordham, Weiss teaches courses in management communication, marketing communication, international business communication, and knowledge management.
    For twenty-five years, Weiss has been president of Edmond Weiss Consulting, a firm that specializes in solving scientific, technical, and management communications problems. Weiss has developed documentation guidelines and corporate communication policies for such firms as:
  • Northern Telecom
  • NCR
  • OKIDATA
  • Digital Equipment Corporation.

    He has designed training and systems for IT professionals in such firms as:
  • Deutsche Bank
  • United Bank of Switzerland
  • Bell Northern Research
  • ADP

    He has developed technical writing programs for:
  • Merck, Inc.
  • Hay International
  • Elbit Systems (Israel)
  • Microsoft

    Weiss is a Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication and winner of the ACM Rigo Award for contributions to software documentation. He is one of only five people to receive both honors.

    Weiss is the author of How to Write Usable User Documentation (Oryx Press 1991) as well as scores of other books and articles.

    Other publications include:

    "Usability: Stereotypes & Traps", in E. Barrett (ed), Text Context and Hypertext, MIT Press, 1988

    "Taking Your Presentation Abroad", Intercom (The Magazine of the Society for Technical Communication), May 1999

    "From Talmud Folios to Web Sites: Hot Pages, Cool Pages, and the Information Plenum", IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, June 1998

    "The Perils of Presentation Software", Today's Engineer, Fall 1998

    "Twenty-Five Tactics to 'Internationalize' Your English", Intercom (The Magazine of the Society for Technical Communication), May 1998

    "Technical Communication across Cultures: Five Philosophical Questions", Journal of Business and Technical Communication, April 1998

    "Why Your Last Technical Proposal Failed", Intercom (The Magazine of the Society for Technical Communication), January 1998

    "'Professional Communication' and the 'Odor of Mendacity': The Persistent Suspicion that Skillful Writing is Successful Lying", IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, Sept. 1995, pp. 169-175

    "The Technical Communicator and ISO 9000", Technical Communication, Spring 1993, pp. 234-238

    "Of Document Databases, SGML, and Rhetorical Neutrality", IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, 36, 2 June 1993, pp. 58-61

    "How to Write Usable User Documentation", by Edmond H. Weiss (Oryx Press 1991)

    "100 Writing Remedies: Practical Exercises for Technical Writers", (Oryx Press 1990)





    Satisfied Clients


    The list of our satisfied Israel-based clients includes:
  • Amdocs
  • Applied Materials
  • Avaya (Lucent Technologies)
  • BIS Advanced Software Systems
  • BMC Software BOS Better Online Systems
  • Computer Associates
  • Comverse Infsys
  • CreoScitex
  • ECI
  • Elbit
  • ELOP
  • Emblaze Systems
  • Frontline PCB Solutions
  • M-Systems
  • Machon Lev
  • Motorola
  • NDS
  • Nice
  • Oridion Medical
  • PassCall Advanced Technologies
  • Rafael
  • Real Time Image
  • The Text Store
  • Vocaltec


  • Designing and Writing a Winning Technical Proposal - A Live E-learning Course
  • Preparing English Technical Documents for International Readers
  • How to Write a Usable User's Manual
  • How to Write a Winning Technical Proposal
  • Usability Testing for Technical Communicators
  • Elements of Winning Proposals
  • About the Lecturer
  • Satisfied Clients