The following is a guest post by STC Associate Fellow Donn DeBoard.
I have been involved in the STC PMC competitions for about 17 years. I’ve submitted many guides and user assistance systems, and have been fortunate to receive multiple awards, the latest in 2010 as part of a multi-author help team. Personally, the comments I received on my entries have been just as valuable. These comments gave specific advice on how to improve my content. Overall, they provided a fresh perspective on the content I may have become too familiar with over time.
I’ve also judged the works of others with my STC peers, both locally and remotely. Three people critique each entry. Every judge highlights different aspects of the entry. The judges meet, either physically or remotely, to discuss the entry’s strengths and areas for improvement. At the conclusion of the meeting, the judging team reaches a consensus decision on whether the entry is award-worthy and, if so, what level of award. Conversations within the judging team are another way to improve your skills. One help system I reviewed provided a simple solution to an issue I was wrestling with in my own help.
The competitions have helped me gain fresh insight on the design and delivery of content. You can apply this in your daily work. The competitions have helped the writers in my own firm enhance their content and their communication skills. Since 1996, our development team has won multiple awards. Some have done well enough to compete in the international competitions. The competitions have validated the high quality of our work. They also offered an avenue for the continual improvement of our development team.
I keep involved in the competitions on the international level as a judge. I also keep involved locally as a site host with other members of our development team. I want to continue to build relationships and learn from some of the best and most creative thinkers in our industry. How will you grow your skills this year through the competitions?
You can participate in the STC-New York Metro/ STC-Philadelphia Metro/STC Houston technical communication competitions in many ways. You can be a judge and review the best works of your technical communication peers. You can submit the information product you are most proud of to receive insightful and positive comments from your peers. You never know — your submission might be a Best of Show!