September 25

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Interviewing Bill Schweber

By jaime

September 25, 2020


In this episode, I talk with freelance technical editor, Bill Schweber. Bill was an Analog Design Engineer for many years then made the transition from to Product Marketer. In that role, he discovered the importance of being able to communicate clearly with your audience.

Bill shared a lot of good tips so it was hard to limit them to only three but here I present the top takeaways from our discussion.

Top 3 Takeaways

#1 Try To Find The Audience’s Sweet Spot

Bill says the biggest challenge when communicating to the audience is finding that sweet spot between having a very in-depth discussion that will appeal to about six people and having a broad discussion where the audience will hear a lot of stuff but learn very little. He says, “You’ve got to be clear at each point your talking about and provide context for your audience.”

#2 Pick A Good Headline

Bill says the headline “sets the tone for the story.” It not only tells audience what to expect from you but it also helps keep you on track. As you are writing or presenting, always ask yourself if what you are saying is consistent with the headline.

When Bill wrote press releases he says would spend hours working on the headline. He says, “You’ve got about 20 words to capture what the product is, what it does, why it’s significant and to whom it’s significant.” One thing he cautions against is using puns in headlines because the audience doesn’t get it. He says the headline is very, very important, “[it] forces the author to stick to a certain storyline and not go wandering off into ravines and eddies.”

#3 Find A Writing Mentor

Bill was fortunate to have more than one boss who helped him on his writing journey. Not every engineer has that opportunity so Bill recommends getting your own mentor. He recommends looking at publications or websites and take note of the names that show repeatedly. Then reach out them and ask how they get into writing.

The one caveat Bill offers is to make sure that the person you are contacting has a technical background. He cautions that there are some writers who “know the words but not the story behind the words.”

There is a more knowledge in this interview so I encourage you to watch it completely. Let me know what you think.

About the author

I'm an engineer and, sometime, public speaker.  I believe technical presentations don't have to be boring.  I believe the world will benefit when engineers become better communications.

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