Last week a colleague of mine, Tom Johnson, shared with me an e-mail he received from somebody in our organization. There was to be a large meeting to hash out all the details surrounding a new project. In the message that contained the meeting rationale, the organizer included this gem:
I will be getting a technical writer in the room to help us document these things. I anticipate the individual for the most part taking dictation.
It’s rather galling that a project manager would begin a two-day meeting to document the processes of creating a new project, and that they would expect the technical writer to take dictation of the meeting. They don’t anticipate that the writer will be able to help add to the discussion or provide any insightful input. But, hey, they can sure take notes and distribute them to everybody after the meeting so the rest of the attendees won’t have to pay attention to the meeting.
Thankfully this is only one project manager among many, and not all our PMs have the same “high” opinion of technical writers in general. But it makes me wonder, how do we improve the overall perception of our profession? Will certification accomplish that? What steps have you taken in your work to improve how others view technical writing as a whole?
How would you have responded (professionally, of course) to the PM who sent that message?