Meet Linda Robins, Head Judge of the UK Technical Communication Awards
Linda has been working in technical communication for 41 years as editor, author, manager, course developer and trainer, and is now in her 12th year of judging the awards. We interviewed Linda about her experiences within the industry and also what being a judge of the awards means to her…
What is your technical communication background?
I started as a technical editor with a Systems Engineering firm, who were then hiring arts graduates as editors. I soon felt that I needed a technical background to engage fully in the business. (I’d regretted having to ‘drop’ the sciences, so was glad of this opportunity.)
I studied electronic and electronic engineering with options in control engineering and in computing. I then became a technical author, moving to writing software documentation within software development teams. I really enjoy the combination of use of language and technical subject matter.
I spent a number of years managing documentation teams, running large software documentation projects. I’ve also presented training courses, developed computer-based training courses and have been involved in testing software.
I have worked extensively in developing documentation standards and developing metrics for documentation production.
In readiness for the new millennium, I decided to return to writing to stay in touch with technical developments in software and documentation. Currently, I am documentation manager for a firm which develops a suite of software products and systems to support electronic trading/market data and connectivity for stock exchange trading worldwide. We have staff of 31 nationalities with customers worldwide and offices in the UK, Europe, the US and Asia.
What have been the achievements you are most proud of within scientific or technical communication?
There are four key achievements I am most proud of:
- Developing standards for specialist manuals and implementing them company-wide.
- Bringing in complex technical documentation projects successfully within budget and to specification.
- Gaining recognition for the value of documentation specialists in industry; becoming recognised as an authority in effective writing.
- Training software developers in writing principles – and seeing the results in action.
What was your reason for initially getting involved with the judging process?
I am now in my 12th year of judging the awards. I was enlisted initially soon after being co-opted onto Council. I felt that I could contribute to the process given my range of knowledge and experience. I had benefitted from guidance and expertise of ISTC members and thought I could give something back as a judge of awards entries.
I always enjoy the judging. It is so encouraging to see such high quality in such a range of genres and styles of output.
What are you looking for in a UK Technical Communication Awards entry?
A piece of work whatever its form that meets its stated purpose, is executed to a high standard appropriate to subject matter and audience.
What top three tips would you give to potential entrants thinking of entering the awards?
- Prepare your entry statement carefully to ensure that the judges can assess the success of your entry.
- Aim to have a unique selling point to set yours apart from other entries.
- Be thorough in your quality control; consistency and accuracy are very important.
Are there any words of encouragement you would like to give to people who are not sure about entering an award?
If in doubt, enter! We have a wide range of entries; budget and scale vary widely. Your piece will be judged on its merits.
You can use the feedback provided by the judges to help you win with your next year’s entry.
To submit your entry to this year’s awards, click here