March 18

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






Business email shockers from the customer coalface

Sign saying No Way

If these business emails are anything to go by, then written communications is at an all-time low in Australia.

As a writing coach, I’m often asked whether I think writing standards are slipping

After all, technology makes it increasingly easy for us to evade real writing skill.

Wrote a sloppy sentence that might sound harsh? Just compensate with a goofy-faced emoji. Spelling a little off-key? Just keep going; auto-correct will do your job. Words lacking cut-through on social media? Add a cute puppy photo and you’re sorted.

Since I wasn’t around in the 1950s – or the 1650s, for that matter – I can’t speculate on what the average person was writing at the time. I can only go by the literature of the day.

And frankly, I do prefer the lucid style of Steinbeck to the florid style of Shakespeare. Equally, the writing style of academia at any point in history is nothing to yearn for.

However, something I see emerging in people’s writing now is an erosion of respect for others. Sure, sometimes we need to say things as they are. But in an era of ‘fake it til’ you make it’, people forget they still need to bow to hierarchy, protocol, systems or priorities that exclude sweet little them, the senders of a demanding or outraged message.


5 most common business email assassins

So, in no particular order, here are some absolute charmers I’ve come across through the hundreds of workshop participants I’ve trained in recent years.


  1. The Potty-mouth Princess

“I have no idea what you f**king people have done with my f**king transfer application and as you f**king won’t answer my emails, have no f**king idea what to do about getting the f**king credit I deserve for the f**king studies I’ve done so far.

“I’m sorry I had to be so forceful here, but have no other way to make my point.” – Undergraduate, emailing to the admin staff at a major university (curse-words not bleeped out in original email)

If you find yourself swearing at anyone, ever, in a professional situation, just don’t expect to get a particularly helpful response. Instead, expect the email to land straight in their junk mail settings (workplace filters look for things like swearing). Or wait to get a call from their lawyer. That’s all.


  1. The Matey Maaaaate  

“Hey, when you’re done with the install just buzz me to come back and check, cause I’m just gonna take a lunch break now.” – Junior carpenter, emailing the CEO of an office fitout specialist during a project

Such a profound sense of entitlement here. If you’re not going to make yourself indispensable, by actually doing your job for the boss, at least use a brilliantly perceptive tone in justifying your reasons why.


  1. The All-cap Empress

!!!!!!!!! URGENT !!!!!!!!! When can you process the application for Client 123456 – Email subject line from an immigration agent, writing to government department

So, you think your message is the most important of 173 ‘urgent’ items in your recipient’s in-box? Well then, we suggest you sit back, relax and re-read the organisation’s Ts and Cs about response times. Once the addressee has stopped howling with laughter, gasping in outrage or sharing your rudeness with 20 others, they might just write you back – next month. Long after they’ve written back to the other 172 others before you.


  1. The Carbon-copy Clown

“I’m guessing [client] wants his stupid logo extra big as always, so I’ve gone and done that already.” – Graphic designer to content manager, before the whole email chain was forwarded to the client

Those email chains that grow and grow, then get cc’d and forwarded to at least 10 other teams? Yep, they’re potentially rife with relationship-breakers like this one, lurking way down at the bottom of 27 emails. Never add to a chain. Whenever you can, start a fresh email log instead.


  1. The Sweeping Generalist

“The company has a dictatorial management style, with most staff excluded from decision-making. – Newbie in a board report submission to her boss

Okay, so sometimes we have to deliver bad news. But when that’s done in public (and yes, a report is public), word choice becomes extra important. Does that business leader really want their best people to see them linked to terms like tyranny, bullying, failure or harassment? Choose more diplomatic words – ‘top-down management style’ rather than ‘dictatorial’, for example – and devote your word-count to talking more about the solutions, not the problems.


I’d love to hear about any more pearlers from your organisation. Feel free to comment below, or flick us a friendly email. And if you want to learn more, try one of our business writing courses at CCE, The University of Sydney.

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