Podcast 68: TCUK 2019 – The interviews

This episode of the Cherryleaf Podcast contains interviews recorded at the Technical Communication UK 2019 conference.


This is the Cherryleaf podcast.

Hello and welcome to the Cherryleaf podcast.

This podcast contains recordings from the TCUK 2019 conference, the technical communications UK 2019 conference.

This is a conference run by the Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators, and it was held in the middle of England in Kenilworth in September 2019.


Nearly all of the recordings on this podcast have been done using us smartphones and using the Anchor.FM application, so the audio is a little bit variable on this particular episode, but anyway I hope you find it interesting and you enjoy.


And do bear in mind the conference is a really good conference, and do consider attending TCUK 2020 in the future which will be around I suspect the autumn time of next year.


And this particular episode is brought to you by Cherryleaf’s recruitment arm. If you’d like any more information on that contact us at info at Cherryleaf.com or the Cherryleaf website.


Let’s try the first recording then.


I’ve got Derek with me. So you’ve been organizing the conference and four years.


In four years.


And Chantel as well there, who’s been organizing things behind the scenes


So ten. The thing ten in any specific way or just in general?


No it’s it’s not even ten. It’s one zero.


One zero so I could interpret it as ten


You could interpret it as one zero is binary or any other number base


It’s to give people the option to explore innovative ways to put together a presentation and we have had some really good ideas coming in with


We’ve identified a winner of the innovative presentation all right we’ll present that to Thursday lunchtime


And how would you describe TCUK and how it differs from other conferences?


I’d think TCUK, I think it’s much friendlier.


Yeah the organizers are very accessible to people.


It’s a much more generally focused conference rather than on any one particular tool or methodology or anything like that.


And we encourage presenters to come in with presentations that are both on theme and off theme so we’re not limiting it to anyone.


We encourage people who have never presented at the conference or maybe even anywhere before.


So we’re trying to keep it fresh and interesting and involving for people.


I think that makes TCUKsay a little bit special


Thank you


Thank you


So I’ve got Mike Hamilton from MadCap.


He has come over from San Diego to the conference


This is you were just saying it’s the 11th conference you have done


Oh my goodness I think I did 11 in a row, because I missed last year and I think this will be number 12 in terms of MadCap and Flare.


You’ve got a presentation, one?


I do have a presentation, the last day on micro content


Flare 2019 was released, when it was released?


This spring it’s fine I want to say April but I’d have to actually go check.


It’s been a bit of a blur.


The reception being for the micro content feature that’s been added to Flare – how has it been doing?


It’s been quite popular


A lot of people were expecting it to be focused on the chatbots and AI.


And yes it can be used for that, but I think people are surprised at the immediate benefit of search snippets impacting search results.


Aand so I think that’s why it’s become a bit more popular than we expected a bit earlier than we expected.


It has that instant gratification factor as well as setting up yeah for the more advanced technology later.


Thank you


Maybe if I hit record it might go!


So try that again.


So I know you’re filtering out


So I’m with Bill Tobin.


(unclear) two years into us while now, which is this is good time here because the company was willing to sponsor me this time.


I convinced them because of my previous experience


Yeah it’s always great for networking, free starts, and to find out where the profession is going.


Any particular presentation way of presenting ideas?


Ellis Pratt, yeah he was very good.


This is Chris Hester.


You’ve just spoken at a conference.


You were first on and then now you’re on that cool relaxed things.


What did you talk about and how did you think it went?


I talked about content strategy and moving from a deliverable based mindset to a strategic thinking mindset, and how sometimes we think that it’s one or the other.


Yeah but really if you think about it we can have the best of the world.


You can’t have one or the other to get your deliverables done.


But you have to think in the big picture of how am i working on, what am i working on, and how does it support the strategy for the organization?


And UL which is a testing organization in the States?


Yes, testing and certification organization.


In terms of applying that to you? That’s started; that’s in progress?


it’s something I have observed that was somewhat in progress but now we’re trying to formalize it within the organization.


Now that I’ve come on board


And how did you find presenting at the conference?


I love presenting here


It’s a wonderful organization, it’s a wonderful group of people, and it’s always just a warm and welcoming group to come back to.


So you’re from Chicago, so here for the countries


Are you going straight back? Are you having a holiday?


Oh, we’re taking a holiday


We are actually leaving here tomorrow.


We’re going back to London, and then we’re going down to Paris for a few days s


So we’re truly taking holiday this time.


Thank you


my feeling it


So you spoke this morning


I did, first on


So how was that


I wanted to talk about..


Well first of all I was really pleased to be talking first because having spoken like an arrow light or something


Okay the theme in the conference


As you know is TCUK conferences 10 years also


I decided to base my talk on the important technology changes that have taken place over the past 10 years


Is there really impact on our work as technical communicators


And one of the things I did was one of the authoring tools I know best is MadCap Flare.


So I looked back on all the annual past releases of Flare going back 10 years, to see what one of the key features they’ve introduced each year.


Because those tend to indicate that technology trends that are going on at the time.


So one of these where you you pick the theme and then went away and discovered what you want to talk about?


So you didn’t have a preconceived idea before you start?


I don’t have a burning burning message to get across, but I I thought it would be, I thought it would be good to take stock of the last 10 years.


The ticking leaves as although as I said in the talk when you look at the Help file now it doesn’t look that much different


It still tends to have the navigation on the left and the top content on the right


What’s different is the fact that it’s can be now viewed on a range of different devices, different screen sizes, almost every piece of content I pray now has to be responsive.


And that’s the biggest change, because as I said in my talk, 10 years ago you know one had.


How did you find it to predict the future when you’ve done this type of thing in the past


If you have been something where it’s been relatively straightforward?


It’s completely impossible if I, because, I mean 20 years ago, I was still basically doing what I’m doing now; writing the same kind of help.


Yeah with the same kind of navigation, the same kind of issues.


Okay the responsive bit is new.


It’s pretty much the same.


Okay we’re using video now, but it you know I hear the same things discussed we talked about you know.


We talked about topic types; we talked about things; we talked about searching; and and I don’t think 20 years ago I would have imagined that I’d still be doing almost exactly the same thing and using authoring tools.


It really basically very very similar to what I was easy 20 years ago.


Yeah I mean of course you know people still get stuck and they still want to read, so there’s some ways , that’s why there’s still a situation of giving people text that solve their problems.


But I think when you look ahead 20 years, you imagine that, you know, 20 years sounds …, imagine there’ll be some magical, you know full transparent method.


Very good


Yeah most enjoyable.


I’ve met a lot of old friends and familiar faces, and a good sign is that I there’s a session starting in 25 minutes, and I can’t make up my mind which one to go to, because they both look equally attractive.


Great thank you very much


Helen Harbord, Elsevier.


Only been there for a while yeah




How time flies.


What are you doing at Elsevier in terms of documentation?


Well I 89 developers and we work on a product which is designed to help people design and run clinical trials.


Okay yes so not the publishing side at all?


No, no.  Elsevier is moving, I mean the publishing is sort of turning into information on electrics right sake and a lot of machine learning stuff coming along.


A lot of ultimate it yeah other stuff right.


It’s happening definitely, but yeah this this product is a fairly niche market is specifically for clinical trials and clinical research organizations and academic research.


Okay yeah


And I do all the customer facing documentation for that


So online help, training content?




That’s interesting


Yeah it is yeah


You’ve been to other conferences in the past.


I have yeah.


How have you found this one so far?


It’s very good yeah yeah.


It’s great I think.


I mean I love coming to the presentations and listening to all the different content, different people talking.


I think for me it’s almost more about their the conversations that you have. With the people I’ve done


Because I’m the sole  author there and I know lots of people .


Not everyone, no, so it’s you know it’s that thing if you’ve got some issue you’re working on.


You know you can always find someone who’s just done it or just about to do it or yeah it’s really nicely to share knowledge.


Yeah just don’t feel quite so alone in the development world, yeah.


And was there any particular thing or topic that grabbed your attention or was it just the fact that you know from the past it’s a good conference and just worth attending?


Yeah the latter really.


But then once I start looking at the programme you know, certain things, yeah.


There was a workshop on SVG by Tony Dzumaga which a couple of people said this really good yes


Thank you.


And so it’s day two of TCUK 2019


We’re going to be having segments from some of the delegates who will be going around and recording as part of the session that is being done on how to make a podcast.


So my name is Ken Davis.


I’m going to be presenting this afternoon on a talk about maintaining an infrastructure of HTML files when all your original documentation is PDFs .


So I’m a technical author .


I work for a company called access group yeah.


yes so yeah very excited to be here got to meet new people .


I meet a couple of conferences before; it’s really fun.


I’ve been to the one in 2011 that’s in Oxford


How many years ago


Well it’s just sometimes timing really situation I mean.


And I do sometimes go to the Write the Docs Meetups basically and there happened a couple of conferences as well.


So they’re, they’re quite good they summits will come and go.


Although I’ll continue as well so so yeah I guess it depends on at the time what you need.


I’m always beyond reading the magazine and website.


My name is Tina Hoffmann.


I’m a delegate.


I didn’t come last year but I’ve been to lots of TCUK conferences before and I most recently worked as the documentation manager for European infrastructure and operations at the Visa data centre in Basingstoke.


But I have been on a break since the end of April and so I’m kind of treating this as my first step to kicking off my getting back into work mode


So from the 1st of October I’ll be looking for contracts you know permanent job consultancy role and I’ve already spoken to Paul about this so so for me really it was it’s yeah it really kicks off getting back into working mode after having a wonderful summer off.


And what I really sort of sums about my experience so far is the first talk I attended on Tuesday was the session after lunch by Margarita Hawkman


And at the end of it after she’d gone through all the disasters and all the challenges that had happened to her and all the battlements somebody asked her well with all of this stuff going on why are you still a technical communicator


And for me this conference really sums this up you know often people people get really sort of you know a bit despairing and I think Oh nobody listens to us nobody reads what we do and a lot of people are soul offers and they don’t talk to and then you come here and you spend three days with people who understand what you’re talking people who are passionate about it


People who talk to you about new things


And how even though the industry has changed a lot what we can pick up and what we can do next and you come away and you know you might have arrived to


You’re thinking is this really what I want to do you know and then you come away and you think yes this is what I want to do it


So yeah so I think it’s a for me it’s been a good conference so far you know definitely yeah yeah



I would have loved it if it’d been the original date which is normally the end of September because I’m going on holiday for a week now and then just got done for a week so I’m not really properly job hunt you know my deadline is sort of like the 1st of October


So I wished it was the original date but yes it’s it’s perfect timing


Thank you


So my name is Olly and I’m here to be the speaker for the first time


So this is quite a great experience for me so far and I’ve never been to see UK before but actually the conference is really warm


You know that the atmosphere is so friendly and this is really important because in Russia, I am from Russia, and I basically see that the conferences can be like little bit different.


So they are more on the technical side, but not about the networking


And this is what I really miss because for a year and a half now I am a full-time freelancer so I sometimes I do really miss this human communication that’s being a communicator.


I’ll naturally want to like to talk to people what to have some connection well I like to be like detached when when I’m doing some tasks, but I really need to know that I’m doing something that has has the meaning.


And sometimes I miss it and sometimes I feel that I’m quite alone at my job and here with all of you I feel like this is really a connection and we can discuss some some of the bottlenecks we have some of the paint problems we do all all of us have.


So it’s great to be here.


And this is a challenge for me to be a speaker because obvious the English is not my native language but I enjoy this whole possibility.


And I feel really welcome so far.


So a bit like the into thinking it’s something it’s quite brave to come all the way from Russia to your first TCUK and speak as well


It’s not like you’ve just come here


I decided like to to go all-in in Russia then


Sorry yes


Olly a question for question for Olly


So what are the what are the conference’s like in Russia/


So you don’t have a TCUK equivalent and you said that it’s a bit more sort of businesslike and not a sort of social.


What are the big ones in Russia that you’ve been to


We don’t have that many conferences for the technical communicators in Russia okay


So basically because we don’t even have this official standard for technical communication s


So for example I have a degree not in the technical authorship but in applied linguistics so others technical writers they can come from the various the grounds like engineering like languages all different kinds of everything yes


And the conference’s they are mostly like about the software development but you might have like session or two about technical communications sometimes we do have the meetups like local groups.


There’s a company called Yandex.


It’s like Google but Russian based and it’s a huge company it has like a lot of departments some of like Google like Google Drive but Yandex disk and the others like yandex.money and the capture the record


Yes so it’s like the huge corporations.


They have the conference called Hyperbaton, but in in a way you you will say it in Russian give your baton and but don’t.


In Russian it means like the piece of bread.


So it’s like you know the collocation it’s like I mean yes so


Actually this conference is good and here we have representative from the Kaspersky Lab yes she’s from Moscow and yeah.


And they have as far as I know they made the conference for the technical communicators but I didn’t have a chance to be there.


So have you got any ideas that you’re going to take back to Russia?


Yes of course I think that I should be more proactive and maybe I should be more involved in the community of technical communicators since impassable in my city


Yes and well of course I have lots of inspiration


So like in terms of what I can do to improve my projects or what I can do to improve the the communication between the departments in the companies to work for


I think we can stop the recording Rachel




This is TCUK 2019 and we’re a group of delegates and we’re going to tell you what our thoughts are about the conference so far


Starting with..


I am Tanya Brown


I work for Inmarsat


We have satellites and so far I have actually went to all the presentations yesterday and I think probably the best one was Matthew Ellison talking about the comms changes over the last ten years which was great.


Because it does show how far we’ve come in 10 years time time.


I am Jane Rowllinson.


I work for a company called ActiveOps


This is my first time speaking at a conference so I didn’t take much notice of what went on yesterday morning because I was too worried.


I really enjoyed Charlotte Claussen at the end of yesterday afternoon, about how we need to promote ourselves and see what other people think we do and perhaps put them right about that


I found that really informative


Hi I’m Ant


For the first time we have at our company of the RSSB a senior knowledge and content manager which means she needs to write a content strategy for the company and I thought Chris Hester’s presentation on content strategy and more importantly how to engage people in implementing it was going to be very very useful for us.


Hi I’m home from zeratul Norway


I think that the most interesting workshop I’ve attended was actually the first.


Chris Heston about nonverbal communication


My letter looked from that I didn’t realize there was such a connection between nonverbal communication and documentation


Hello my name is Andrea Flolid.


I’m with Arm and the session that sticks with me the most was also by Hester but it was a different session it was smitten with strategy which I think conflicted with the one Tanya.


And so you needed to see it but she said basically when you’re trying to implement a new strategy to get from being deliverable based to strategic.


She came up with options from getting from one to the other building a bridge between the two but she said ultimately the best solution is meeting in the middle where you create a clear vision


You expect resistance but you prioritize trust and start small and build from there


Hi my name’s Kieran Dodd


I arrived today and one of the key sessions I’m looking forward to today is 10 STE myths busted at 12 o’clock because I train people in STS and provide technical English


So I shall be interested to hear what Michael has to say about it


Hi I am Amanda Ma


I’m a freelancer so I’m behalf of myself and and the theme of the conference is 10 and so far my the most interesting and entertaining talk I’ve seen is by Jean Rowllinson the 10 commandments of technical writing.


It was good to go back to basics and look at all those the key things that we key rules we will follow and also a good time to kind of question whether they still are relevant and and it was also very entertaining


Cool good man s


So that so that’s why we’re all here did we want to say anything else is anybody gonna come back again next year?


Absolutely yes


Is anybody is this the first time for anybody


No your zero or Raghu’s yeah me too


And so we would recommend that you it’s very friendly yes




This is team AFA all female voices out here, interviewing people in the atrium of TCUK 2019.


We’re here with Paul Ballard ex-president and ex-boss of the most awesome technical author in the world.


I’m still the boss yes


So Paul what what talks would you be most interested in seeing at next year’s conference?


I had a really interesting breakfast with David from MailChimp this morning and he’s he’s the first time


His first time at the conference in him and he’s come over all the way over from Atlanta and he said he’s so impressed with the conference this year.


He’s coming back next year and I’ve suggested he so he’s basically be giving two presentations which sounds awesome.


One is basically his stories of soul growing with the can be like MailChimp and second is what was it you at practice Lucio is the bias in documentation


Bias in documentation


How to avoid bias.




What kind of bias was he talking about?


What are you seeing?


Also he said he’s over the years you seen all sorts of different bias such as vice relates to age gender the kind of the seniority of people that perspective in the company and how that influences the bias in the documentation that gets created.


So it sounds like there’s the to be quite distinctive talks that he keep.


It’s both sound really interesting to me


Well that does sound really interesting


Thanks very much Paul Ballard


Especially by this is team AFV all female voices saying what we’d like to see it next year’s conference


I’m Jan PI


One thing that’s always fascinated me is just how broad technical communication is


It’s not just software documentation this hardware documentation and all of that but there’s also the standard side of things and it spills out into so many other things


Like we have a knitting pattern technical editor here this year, which is amazing.


And something that I’m into his board games and board game instructions


Well well they are technically tape but it’s it’s really


So I’d like to see more about the edges and the less recognized fits the fringes interesting


My name is Maria


I would like to hear more about how technical writing and communication use overlaps and with other spheres for example UX/UI developers


And the topic I think is very interesting


I’m Sendin from Germany and I would like to see more participants some like to see more companies participating and most bosses that could be added to the system


Now also looking forward to the new more workshops that really have and getting to know people


Is there a specific subject you’d be interested in saying a workshop about because we’re all working in a very confined area


Yes right now we are migrating to conference and maybe it would be interesting to some tips and tricks and bottlenecks and how to give them around it’s a good point we don’t really have many talks on things like wikis from that scenario yeah a lot of us actually did work in


Thank you


My name’s Annette I am at IBM in Dublin


So one of the top tech writing trends talks yesterday you talked about you know how I just became more involved in the UX experience


And I think chatbots are, what chatbots is one of the ways that that we can be involved there and providing help in the UI


So next year I’d like to see more interactive workshop about how we can actually create chatbots for you soon


Roderick Newall


My name is Mary


This is my first conference


What I’m hoping to get from it is just a wider pool of technical three because we do spend lives in our own little bubbles and our own environments there’s been an awful lot as far as I’m concerned this and particular technology which just shows me just how wide the subject is we’ve just talked about augmented reality we’ve talked about massive systems


We’ve talked about intelligence


There are style guides and then little patterns


You know it’s a very wide range as far as I’m concerned somewhat


But an interest I have is editorial support for subject matter experts just because seems to me there’s less time for people to do their own writing that the volume of what we expected to deal with is going up so finding ways of dealing with that and staying sane yes


Hi I’m Les


And I would like to see more talks about soft skills


I think that aren’t necessarily technical authoring that if you wanted to say move into management things like management skills


Hi everybody


We are now since the TCUK conference 2018 and we are happy to present you Martin who is the speaker this conference


Martin what was your talk about?


My talk is about how we can act in an office as a technical communicator to make our life easier or more difficult


It’s experience based talks about some things I


And I know what the purpose of going wrong and sometimes the things of do rise as well and I believe that this makes our job a lot easier and whatever technologies you have or processes you would opt


You are still in the end going to talk with people and interact with people and that’s the core of our being as technical communicators


So about two I’m going to be talking about


Thank you


Thank You Martin


So I hope you found that podcast interesting


Thank you to the people that complimented us on the podcast at the conference


It was lovely to hear from you and to get feedback that we seem to be doing things that you find useful interesting


Thanks very much

One Comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.