How to Write for Performance Support

How to Write for Performance Support

What’s the difference between technical writing and writing for learning? Do you find yourself writing help files, FAQs, video tutorial scripts, or internal wikis and blogs? Trainers call this informal learning. This ‘just-in-time” learning is often unplanned and based on a real need. There’s an approach for organizing this vast assortment of content, called Performance Support, and it needs your skills.

Performance Support should be written for use in the moment, focused on directive action-oriented instruction on how to do something. Sound familiar? While you might not think of technical manuals as learning materials, even STC includes “providing instructions about how to do something” in the definition of Technical Communication. But Performance Support isn’t just about step-by-step instruction. Performers need context and concepts – the things they need to know or understand in order to perform.

Join us for a bit of cross-pollination, where we look over at the other side of the office to find out what Trainers are doing and how you can help. We’ll define Performance Support, discover the Performance Support pyramid, explore the state of the art, and review a methodology that neatly captures the growing overlap between technical communication and training. We’ll survey the many ways you can help training boil down their instructional text and get focused on supporting people in their moment of need. These days, you should consider the training department an ally, or a source of new projects, or even a new client!


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