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Nov 8, 2012 Ξ Leave a comment

The clueless SME

posted by Tenneti
The clueless SME

Most experts, who are not sure of the information that they need to provide, fall into this category. Even though they appreciate the work of a technical writer, they are not confident if they will be able to provide the right information. Some of them, like scientists, begin at a point and end up explaining some other concept. Hence, you need to be wary about the information you get from them.

Either they are crammed with too much information or they are too excited to share all the information with you in one go, they always leave you confused. You have to be clear about your information needs to every required details. It helps to have repeated sessions with them to understand their communication style and diversion patterns before trying to master these patterns.

How to deal with them?

To deal with this kind of experts and gather information from them:

  • Engage them in discussions and demo sessions to understand more about their perspective.
  • Explain the structure of the information that you are developing and show the outline if it helps. Elaborate on the documentation needs so that they gain some clarity on the information that you need.
  • Prepare a list of questions on your document and try to get answers to all these questions.
  • Prepare a directed interview with them and do not allow them to steer the discussion. Keep focusing on the documentation requirements. This helps establishing a pattern where they always provide you the information that you need immediately.
  • Provide reference to the different types of users and their information needs. Thus, you can prevent them from delving on other unnecessary details.

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