Theory of Technical Communication


You know how every once in awhile you look at something you’ve accomplished and realize, “This experience was a total game changer.” At the risk of sounding over-dramatic, this class was one of those “change your life” learning opportunities. Hidden in the readings, the theory, the concepts, was a diamond shining brilliantly and  waiting to be discovered. This was the class that things clicked for me because I realized that technical writers were effective communicators. Now, this might seem like a no-brainer to others, but to me, my concept of technical writing was “the details.” And, while “the details” are one component of technical writing, I realized that having the ability to look at the big picture of a situation and effectively orchestrate all the moving parts and effectively communicate to every person involved in the bigger picture–well, that takes a little more finesse because each person has a unique perspective. Learning the theory behind communication helped me develop concepts that can be taught in a classroom, in the workplace, and shared with leadership groups.

Key concepts from this class include:

  • connecting technical communication to other areas of rhetoric and composition
  • establishing a disciplined writing practice
  • ability to analyze an audience and determine best way to communicate information
  • ability to think critically about email and its role in the workplace
  • the concept of teaching technical communication in the classroom and its interdisciplinary effectiveness across the curriculum
  • introduction to


The inspiration for this project was a reading the article from The Journal of Business and Technical Communication, “Reconceptualizing E-Mail Overload” collaboratively written by Gail Fann Thomas, Cynthia L. King, Brian Baroi, Linda Cook, Marian Keitelman, Steve Miller and Adelia Wardle. This reading was assigned early in the semester and it was the first time the margins of my paper were completely covered in notes, comments, and questions. I immediately applied the concepts into my workplace and the results were swift and positive.


As a person who values process I have often been more than a bit frustrated with lack of clear direction or lack of boundaries regarding use of technology, texting, and responding immediately to emails in regards to the workplace. This article concisely outlined that feelings of immediacy can lead to burn-out, chronic stress, even panic and anxiety. My purpose in this project was to provide my response to the above article and add to it by furthering my own research.


My final project in this class was about the intersection of technical communication theory and best practices when using electronic tools when communicating, primarily in the workplace. I chose to deliver my final project in the form of a PowerPoint presentation because I would like to teach these concepts either in a consulting environment or in a college classroom.

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