Here’s how I developed five steps to create a how-to guide. It all started with a conversation.
“Sherri, could you create a how-to manual or guide for our committee?”
“Sure! First, I need a little background to understand the scope.”
“What would you like to know,” the co-chair, John, asked.
“Things like how many members are on the committee, basic tasks, and what’s already documented?”
“I’ll take the easy parts first. Our committee is national, with five members who wear many hats,” John said. “And nothing’s documented. It’s all in our heads!”
All in their heads? That’s exactly the challenge I enjoy!
Five steps to create a how-to guide.
- Set the stage. I asked myself seven questions before I began this project. Then I…
- defined the purpose (create a replicable template for the organization’s how-to manuals).
- identified the key players (committee members, all volunteers) and the audience (organization’s members).
- decided on the format (Google Doc).
- outlined the initial project deliverable and milestone (first draft by EOY).
- Gather the background. I interviewed the co-chairs and some long-time committee members (SMEs). They gave me the committee’s history, background, and task list.
- Dig for details. Now that I had basic information, how could I connect with the SMEs? We had a unique opportunity—an in-person kickoff meeting. To prepare for that meeting, I had written the basic tasks on pieces of paper. I brought tape and poster board to the
meeting so we could layout the tasks and fill in some details. The visual assisted us in seeing what we had, how the tasks related, and what was missing. We continued meeting—either virtually, through emails, or over the phone.
- Write, edit, and rewrite. I developed the initial draft and emailed the drafts the Google Doc to the committee members. Members edited their sections, which led to further revisions—everything from basic to developmental edits, copyediting, and proofreading.
- Obtain approval. In this case, it was approval of the first draft. The committee co-chairs and members approved the layout, topics, and details. The organization’s committee co-chairs approved the layout.
And by EOY, we’d met our goal—created the first draft of a replicable template for the organization’s how-to manuals.