Should we change the structure of user guides to make them more inspiring?

Nancy Duarte presented a talk on the hidden structure that the greatest communicators and persuaders have used over thousands of years:

She argues effective presenters move from “What is” to “What Could be” during their speech:

The effect is that changes happens – ideas get adopted.

It’s easier to see it working in training documentation, but with the development of knowledge bases and a more conversational and collaborative approach to user documentation, perhaps it could be applied there as well.



I certainly don’t expect the users of the manuals I write for banking software to be inspired by them. But if the documentation we provide with the product explains how to use the product while doing their jobs, not just what the various parts of the software do, I’d expect them to like using the product more than whatever they used previously. I don’t think we should try to be more inspirational than that.

Yossi Karp

I just gave a presentation at work based on these principles and everyone in the room was energized. It was amazing to see that people reacted positively once I told them how it is now and then how it could be, leaving the audience with a feeling that my proposal solves the stated problems. I don’t know how it would work in technical documentation, but perhaps the marketing department should take note.

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