Technical writing does not have to be boring.
Technical writing does not have to be difficult to read.
Architects, Engineers, and Contractors often write technical information. As an AEC marketer, you have the task of taking this technical writing and translating it so non-technical readers will understand it. Here are three improvements you can share with your technical writers to move from boring and difficult to interesting and easy!
That's it! Simple to advise, but maybe a tad difficult to execute. So let's practice.
Here's an example of a difficult to read technical scenario.
"The improvements included addition of additional dewatering and conveyance equipment, storage and load-out systems, SCADA improvements, and a new operations facility to include lab space, control stations, and restrooms. This project was executed by the Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) Alternative Project Delivery Method to facilitate a completion date one year earlier than traditional project delivery approaches.”
This scenario has a Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease score of "0"! That means the paragraph is virtually incomprehensible. Applying the three improvements, here's how this same information can transform from difficult and boring to easy and interesting.
"We improved several systems. These included;
We broke up two long sentences into four shorter sentences. We eliminated unnecessary words like, "addition, additional, systems, improvements, facility, project, executed, date one year earlier, project delivery." We took a list of seven items separated by commas and made a bulleted list of four items. By completing these three improvements the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease score jumped from "0" to "26." The grade level improved from "20.0" to "11.0."
If you want to take technical writing to the next level, consider how you can make the data tell a story. Using the same scenario above, consider the following improvement in creating a story from the data.
"The owner of the wastewater treatment plant needed many improvements in a short timeframe. We quickly joined forces with a capable contractor and suggested a Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) Alternative Project Delivery Method. This method reduced the schedule by nearly a year. Together, our team delivered the needed improvements within the owner's tight schedule. These improvements included;
Notice how compelling and interesting a short story can be. In less than 100 words, we not only uncluttered boring data, but we made the data support what really matters. The owner's improvements were achieved in a shorter timeframe.
Gabe Lett, FSMPS, CPSM, LPC