How does a girl go from rooting in the archives of rare-book libraries to teaching technical writing and designing training materials across a wide array of industries?
I began my career as an English professor but soon found that I was more passionate about helping students express their ideas than about showing them how to dissect sonnets.
At the same time, I quickly discovered that I knew nothing about how to teach. (If anyone reading this happened to be in one of my early classes, I’m really sorry about the dry lectures, the disorganized group work, and the unclear assessment standards!)
And so began my lifelong preoccupation with figuring out how to help people communicate in ways that create meaningful human connection and foster deep learning.
Since 2000, I've been studying how to produce clear, focused technical communication and teaching what I’ve learned to professionals from various fields, including engineering, IT, and health care. I’ve also applied myself to finding out all I can about how people learn—how to create and deliver training that engages, motivates, and empowers participants.
Much of what I’ve absorbed can be summed up in two powerful words from the great twentieth-century British novelist E.M. Forster: “Only connect!”
Whether I’m critiquing a proposal or developing training materials, my goal is the same: to connect with the audience at a deep level so the writing speaks to readers in their language, about what matters to them.
During my career, I’ve written, and taught others how to write, just about every kind of business document you can name, from e-mails to proposals to user requirements. I've also produced various kinds of published writing, including academic articles, a textbook on technical writing (A Writing Guide for IT Professionals, Oxford UP), magazine articles, government reports, and online courses.
My second book will be coming out in 2020: Business Writing for Innovators and Change-makers (Business Expert Press).My instructional design work has taken me into the domains of consulting, market research, knowledge management, entrepreneurship, strategic thinking, and innovation. Thanks to my lightning-fast research skills, I’ve also created training materials to develop industry knowledge in highly technical sectors, such as renewable energy, chemicals and plastics, and aerospace.
I'm curious, creative, and naturally collaborative. (A dynamic group brainstorm is my idea of a party!) I love learning about new topics and helping people use writing to forge human connections and make great things happen.