How to communicate with industry and practitioners: Creating user guides and technology summaries
These are terms that you might come across when speaking with industry or specialist practitioners. While academics are happy to talk about ideas and concepts, industry specialists require practical, concise information. It is essential to keep things brief and clear. In this article, we discuss how to approach communications like user guides and technology summaries.
Set the scene
When writing for industry professionals, it is important to set the scene with a sharp and concise overview of what you’re writing about. The less technical, the better. If you are approaching industry, you are most likely describing a technology or product; keep it high level at first, and list its features and applications.
While it is tempting to discuss the exciting science behind the technology or product, this may not be the place for it. If your reader is interested to learn more, they will seek this information in your other publications, intended for more specialist audiences.
Show how it’s relevant to the user
Be sure to address why your technology applies to your target audience. It may be clear to you, but your reader may not be as intimately familiar with what you are presenting as you are. By giving the why a few lines, you will help to convince your reader that your technology is the right technology for them. Think about things like:
What makes this solution stand out from the rest?
What makes it best suited to the particular application that you are targeting?
Explain how it's to be used
Finally, be very clear about how your technology is used – not how it works. Again, you can dedicate one or two lines to this in the previous section to set the scene for why it is the most suitable technology, but here, you want to also give an idea of how it is used.
If you are producing a user manual or user guide, a step-by-step guide is the most effective way to communicate this. If you are writing a short technology summary to distribute to potential end users, then a brief overview of steps required for use is more appropriate. In the latter case, it is more about convincing the reader of the feasibility of your technology, whereas the former case assumes that they have already implemented it.
Preparing communications for end users of your technology can be as exciting as it is educational. On the one hand, you are preparing for other users to implement your technology, but it can be educational in the sense that you are required to spell out your process in detail while also being concise, which can be a challenge. To ensure success, remember to put yourself in the shoes of your intended audience and consider what it is they need to successfully implement your technology.
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