Introducing Nicky Bleiel, Our April Speaker

Nicky Bleiel is coming to Denver in April to talk to us about github.  Here are her responses to our questions:

RMC: How long have you been in technical communication?

NB: 22 years

RMC: How did you get your start?

NB: My first tech comm job was at a simulation software company. I was hired to work on a large set of hard-copy manuals, but within a month or two, I was asked to move everything to online help.  I just had to figure out how to do it!

RMC: What are the top three skills a communicator should have?

NB: Research, organization, negotiation (writing is a given)

RMC: What is your favorite thing about being a technical communicator?

NB: There is always something new to learn. Never a dull moment!

RMC: What tools do you use?

NB: One of the tools I use is Oxygen, for editing DITA topics.

RMC: How do you stay current with issues related to technical communication?

NB: I read STC’s Intercom and attend the Summit every year!  I also read tcworld magazine and several blogs, in addition to being a member of quite a few LinkedIn groups. And I keep my eye out for interesting webinars. Once you get yourself on enough email lists, the educational opportunities will come pouring in.

RMC: What advice would you give to people who want to begin a career as a technical communicator?

NB: Build a portfolio of work whatever way you can — contribute to open source projects, attend local tech meetings and look for opportunities to volunteer to collaborate on a project. Join STC. Read.

RMC: If you weren’t in this profession, what would you be?

NB: An event planner or a magazine editor.

RMC: Favorite industry book?

NB: So many! But one of my recent favorites is Badass: Making Users Awesome by Kathy Sierra

RMC: Favorite fun tool or gadget?

NB: SuperTintin is a tool you can use to record Skype video. I have used it many times for interviewing people for Intercom or STC’s Notebook blog. You can record picture-in-picture or side-by-side video. It’s easy-to-use and flexible.

RMC: Favorite book?

NB: Impossible to choose! I’ll say anything by Steinbeck. And I love biographies.

RMC: Favorite word?

NB: Onomatopoeia, though it is hard to work into conversations.

RMC: Website you visit every day?

NB: Slate

RMC: Favorite travel location?

NB: It’s always fun to visit new places.

RMC: Something else?

NB: I’m hoping to complete a project I can demonstrate at Maker Faire this fall.


Nicky Bleiel is a Watson Information Developer at IBM. She is a Past President of the Society for Technical Communication and has over 20 years of experience writing and designing content for software products in a variety of industries; including documentation, media, industrial automation, simulation, and pharmaceutical. See for a list of her talks and publications.

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