October 17

Copywriting, editorial and consulting


Writing Consultant
In brief

Good writing makes business sense. It’s shorter. It’s quicker. It’s unambiguous. And it can be learned, provided we first unlearn the bad habits acquired from old-fashioned bosses or ill-trained bloggers.

Sydney-based writing coach Stephanie Oley offers several tried and tested frameworks designed to lift your writing techniques. Workshops range from in-house to public and motivational.

Drawing on her background in magazine journalism, radio and copywriting, Stephanie’s original courses include marketing, business, media and presentation writing, complete with original workbook.

Any course can be customised. All come with rigorous upfront client consultation and post-workshop feedback.

Did we mention?

When not consulting, Stephanie is creative partner at The Offices, where you’ll find her latest copywriting across a range of media. Offline, Stephanie stays busy exploring her passion for design, culture and community, and rambling about Sydney with her young family. She has several fiction manuscripts in progress.


Scribbles from Stephanie's notepad 


Stephanie offers a mix of in-house and public writing workshops, all replete with her original textbooks. Talk to her about customised writing, speaking and editing gigs too.


1. In-house workshops

Got six or so people in need of training? Or a very specific brand voice, project or goal to develop? Ask about the bespoke workshops, where Stephanie’s core presentations are adapted to carry examples from your organisation or industry.

Email moc.yeloeinahpetsnull@olleh to request a brochure on copywriting for marketers, writing for business, writing for the media and delivering a presentation. Rates are shown for full-day, half-day and hourly training.

2. Public workshops

Since 2006, Stephanie has presented several full-day writing workshops at The University of Sydney’s Centre for Continuing Education. Click on the links below for course descriptions, rates and upcoming dates.

Persuasive Marketing Materials

Effective Business Reports

Write and Promote a Media Release

3. Speaking

Whether you need a presentation for humour, hype or help, Stephanie’s extensive public speaking experience places her comfortably in front of any audience. Perhaps you want your people to get excited about writing better, or need a workshop on effective emails or better online bios? Just ask about the possibilities.

4. Writing

Long and short, content and catch-lines, websites and wobblers: Stephanie’s writing folio spans various formats and styles. See a selection of work here. Visit The Offices to browse her latest work, or download her portfolio below.


Stephanie Oley






The secret of arguing persuasively


I’m Listening, by HeatherHeatherHeather (Flickr)

It’s that hidden artillery in your argument that makes your writing more persuasive.


I’ve never seen the need to go vegetarian, myself.

After all, we humans have been at the top of the food chain for millennia. We compensated for our puny physiques by inventing spears and guns, and we have incisor teeth to chow down our hunting bounty. Cooked over smoky flames with spices, mind you – not eaten raw.

But at last year’s talk at Sydney’s Festival of Dangerous ideas, author Jonathan Safran-Foer of Eating Animals got me thinking about vegetarianism in a different light. Safran-Foer’s argument goes beyond the ethics of eating another living thing. His biggest beef — so to say — with the modern meat industry is its scale.

Think about it. Global meat supply quadrupled between 1961 and 2007 to reach 284 million tons (according to the NY Times[1]), and is expected to double again by 2050. In advanced industrialised countries we now consume around 80 kilos of meat annually per capita, compared with 30 kilos in non-industrialised countries.

This speaks volumes to my frugal person.

One of the biggest challenges in constructing an argument is coming up with persuasive facts that will sway your non-believers. Classic rhetoricians grouped these facts into three useful categories: logos, pathos and ethos, which I’ve translated here as logic, emotion and credibility.



The logical facts are the indisputable ones, and these come in different shapes and sizes. Some readers will be persuaded by numbers – how big, small or expensive your proposal is in relation to their needs. Others will want the official validation – to know that your proposal fits with a government mandate, an international standard or a legal requirement. You need to know which facts will sway your reader.



The facts don’t tell the full story, and a good persuasive argument must weave in emotive content too. Storytelling is a powerful tool for establishing emotional rapport. Stories about people don’t just give the reader some momentary respite from your argument – they also reveal what has happened, will happen or could happen as a result of an action.



Finally, your reader also needs reassurance of the author’s professional and personal character. This is where you roll out your credentials, qualifications and testimonials. It’s also where you put your ethics on public display, to reveal how your plan will benefit others outside the binary author-reader equation.


Remember, you don’t need tons of supporting facts to drive your argument – just the best ones. And be sure to save a clincher for the end.


Further reading

Intrigued? The art of persuasion is a huge field, worthy of extra reading. Here are some suggestions to get you started.


  • Old-fashioned legal books – Timeless advice on constructing arguments worthy of a court case. Try The craft of research (Booth, Colomb and Williams) or Logic and contemporary rhetoric (Cahane and Cavender).
  • Classical rhetoricians – The ancient Greeks knew a thing or two about persuasion. Read some classic writings from Socrates, Aristotle and Plato and lose yourself in their sheer enjoyment of crafting an argument.
  • Hands-on business writing books – Neil James’ Writing for work has a concise section listing 12 ingredients of a persuasive argument. Maria Veloso’s Web copy that sells has another take on persuasion. Both are recommended, for completely different reasons.
  • Various writing blogs – An archived piece in lists 10 elements of persuasion from an expression (rather than structural) point of view.


[1] ‘Rethinking the meat guzzler’, Mark Bittman, New York Times 2008. Online at:

2 Responses to The secret of arguing persuasively

  1. These make a lot of sense. Do you think Aristotelian Arguments still work for all modern purchases though?

    For instance, now we have purchases that only offer emotional benefits, such as clothes for your online avatar.

    What do you think?


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