Tag Archives: Training Manuals

Write it, Read it, Do it!

As part of the services I offer in my virtual assistant business, Virtual Colleague, LLC, I create training manuals and instructional material. Now, this sounds easy to do. Right? All you have to do it just take it one step at a time and write down what you’re supposed to do. Whether it’s hit a specific button on a computer, pull on a lever, or speak in commands; this should be very simple to create. Not really!

Scrabble Guide

There is more to writing training manuals and instructional material than just writing down step-by-step tasks. Let’s take each project one at a time.

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An instructional manual can be a booklet, card, or video, sometimes written in different languages, that describes how to use a widget. The manual starts with how to unpack the widget and tells the user how to get it ready for use, if that needs to be done. The manual also gives step-by-step instructions on how to use the widget with many caution and safety comments interspersed between the steps. It also lists do’s and don’ts and gives advice on how to care for the widget, warranty information, where to find replacement parts, where to take it for service and other information.

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Examples of manuals are how to operate a lawn mower, how to connect your television to your computer, and many other things. Pinterest is a mini-instructional guide to how to do things including shortcuts.

guide

A training manual is very different. The purpose of a training manual is to describe to the user how to actually use it to do the work. For example, if you want to create an excel spreadsheet and you’ve never used excel before, you can find instructions online that describe each step and click to create a spreadsheet. Training manuals teach without bringing in all the safety and cautionary advice. It is a clear-cut systematic description of what to do and how to do it.

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There may be times when the user has a choice about certain options. For example, in the spreadsheet, the creator may want to change the font. This action is described, but the user is told that the change can be made at any time. It is at the discretion of the creator. Training manuals are geared to quickly learning how to do something without distracting details. It is clear, simple, concise steps to achieve the end result. Examples of training manuals are SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures), logging in to a specific software program, creating a blog with WordPress or BlogSpot.

What starts out as something simple can turn into a complex project in minutes. I always start with an outline and then write up one section at a time. Then I condense or expand each section according to difficulty or available options. Formatting and visual presentation is not so important, because my client usually has a specific font, size, and format in mind for the project.

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As always, I try to offer my client more options, so they can choose what is right for them, whether it’s formatting, word choice, photos, and graphics; I always try to present the project from different perspectives.

The take-away is this: always hire professional writers to do your work. It may seem simple to you, but a professional writer will have an in-depth look at the project and may suggest other topics to cover. Your project will be written in a clear, easy-to-read style and contain all of the information needed, because the writer looks at your project with a new set of eyes.

To find out more about what Virtual Colleague, LLC can do for your business, click here.

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New Branch of My Virtual Assistant Business

Honestly, business has been a little slow lately and with summer coming on and those hot, humid days, I decided to create a new branch for my business. In addition to the services I now offer, I have decided to write a novel.

I know this is a stretch from what I normally do, but I’ve always had a penchant for writing. I continue to do resume packages, training manuals, product descriptions, etc, but I wanted to try something different to augment my income.

Virtual Colleague LLC 4

I actually wrote this story several years ago, when I worked as a temp. If you’ve ever worked as a temp, you know that you are not always included in certain activities and events and sometimes find yourself alone at lunch.

I grabbed a notebook and started getting creative. I wrote during my lunch hour for 4 months. Then I put the notebook away and went on to do other things. Back in December, I wanted to do something different with my business and thought about the notebook.

One snowy day, I took it out and re-read it. I needed to tweak the story a bit and correct some of the errors, but it was almost ready to go. Not trusting myself to find my own errors, I sent it to a copy editor. She suggested a few corrections and I made them.

I was then faced with the prospect of finding a literary agent or publisher. I sent out many query letters, but no one wanted to publish this great work of art?!, so I looked into e-publishing. I finally settled on Book Baby and on May 1st, my e-book, “Everyone Evelon” was published.

Everyone Evelon Cover

I am so excited to share this news with all of you. It is fiction. I spoke about God in it, so it is listed as Christian fiction with a subcategory of romance. It’s a realistic look at young people, young love, career aspirations, and life’s choices.

 

Download a copy of my e-book from these booksellers:

Amazon.com –   http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field- keywords=everyone%20evelon&sprefix=every%2Caps&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Aeveryone%20evelon

Barnes & Noble.comhttp://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/everyoen-evelon?store=allproducts&keyword=everyoen+evelon

Scribd.comhttp://www.scribd.com/search?query=everyone+evelon

Blio https://www.blio.com/blio/actions/searchHandler.do?userType=MLB&tabID=BOOKS&itemNum=ITEM%3a1&key=0015008270&nextPage=booksDetails&parentNum=12848

E-sentral.com –   https://www.e-sentral.com/search/q/everyone+evelon

Kobohttp://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/everyone-evelon

TheCopia.comhttp://www.thecopia.com/catalog/details.html?catId=1605348

 

**After reading the story, please post a review on any of the above sites or on Goodreads. Thank you!

There is so much to do to promote a new book, I will be posting to this blog every 2 weeks instead of every week. To learn more about my e-book, go to my book blog at Write, Read, Delight, Indeed!

 

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How to Do What?

Now that we’re into the New Year, I am re-focusing on my virtual assistant business, Virtual Colleague, LLC, and what I have to offer clients. I’ve already covered article writing, blogging, and press releases in my blogs. Now I’m going to write about creating manuals and instructional materials.

I’ve received a few Christmas gifts that needed assembling. To my surprise, the “instructions” were diagrams or illustrations. If there were any written words, they were usually in Chinese or some other language.

Visual Instructions

I find that very troubling, because I’m not a visual learner. I learn and retain by reading. I LOVE to read and that’s how I’ve taught myself to do many things. While “visual instructions” may be acceptable; in the workplace, written instructions are mandatory.

An example of this is a guideline on how to format company documents. This may cover margins, fonts, colors, font size, paper size, photos or logos and many other requirements. This would not be easily accomplished by just giving a visual of a document. It would not explain the font or font size and it would create a lot of guess work.

Instruction manuals are helpful, if the user has to perform a series of actions, in a specific order to get a specific result. Even when you google something, you will get a written definition or a bulleted list of steps to perform. There may be a YouTube video, too, but there are always the written steps to achieve the desired result.

Written Document

Training manuals favor the written form of instruction. Although there may be illustrations with a huge red “X” over them, having something written down is always accessible. Anything written on paper is portable, readily available and doesn’t require a device to access it. Most offices contain binders full of written material about hazardous material and what to do if an accident occurs, company policies and guidelines, and How-to’s or steps to perform certain tasks and projects.

Writing is here to stay, although we have many new options to view that written material. Writing is communication and every time we tweet, email or text, we view something that someone else has written. These writers feel compelled to share their thoughts or feelings with everyone.

I am a certified Freelance Writer in non-fiction. I was torn between fiction and non-fiction and I had to make a choice, when I signed up for this course. I chose non-fiction, because I thought that dealing with the facts would be more interesting and would require research on my part. I was right.

I’ve written several training manuals and I’ve had to learn about the tasks before I could write about them. In some cases, I sat with the employees and watched them work, taking detailed notes about what they did, how they did it and I tried to find an easier way to do it.

Sometimes, I was asked to update existing training manuals. The company may have purchased new software or automated part of the job, so the training manual was outdated. I also worked for an internet software gaming company, where I wrote test scripts, testing the software for “bugs”. I had to write a script that define every icon and click pattern in that game and then, I had to follow that test script and test every aspect of the game. I had to play the game over and over and document inconsistencies or make suggestions about how to improve player satisfaction. That was a hard job – only kidding!

Man Playing Game at Computer

Writing and word order is so important. Ask anyone who’s ever gone to court and had a word misspelled or the meaning reversed by reversing the word order. Slogans, ad copy, blogging, eBooks and documents rely on their creators having excellent grammar, punctuation and writing skills.

Your written words

are

your thoughts and feelings

immortalized for all eternity.

If you know of anyone, who needs a writing project created or updated, please ask them to contact Virtual Colleague, LLC at 401-384-0257 or email me at: JPlante@VirtualColleagueLLC.com.

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