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






Nailing the 5 elements of your corporate voice


Microphone by Ernest Duffoo (Flickr)

Change the key elements of your corporate voice, and you’ll project an entirely different brand. So where do you start?


I’m always fascinated by the different ways my clients like to deliver their written messages.

One individual is surprisingly fond of lengthy, mannerly phrasing – things like, ‘we are constantly striving to make a difference.’ Another prefers a touch of mischief in her materials. Think, ‘Yes, you do look the part. On paper, that is.’ A third client is happiest with a slick marketer’s lingo: ‘Our brands are sexy in style and price tag.’

It’s almost impossible to imitate someone else’s voice. So when writing on their behalf, you must have a stringent set of guidelines on dealing with the crucial components of voice. Here they are.


1.   Conversational elements

Using questions, humour and conversational elements makes your business sound friendly and informal. Conversational elements include contractions (such as ‘that’s’ instead of ‘that is’) and personal pronouns, like ‘you’ and ‘us’.

Informality is a good thing if you’re in a fast-moving consumer field such as fashion, hospitality or telecommunications. Cut these elements out, of course, and you’ll sound more formal – useful if you’re a firm of lawyers, civil engineers or policy developers.


2.   Sentence and word length

Long sentences and words sound more formal – stuffy, even – while shorter ones convey a more approachable feel.

By ‘long sentences’ I mean more than 20 words, which is the average sentence length in English.By ‘long words’, I mean vocab you’d stumble over if reading them aloud. What’s more comfortable to read – ‘greater levels of transparency and accountability’, or ‘more open and accountable’? Clearly the latter.


 3.   Level of technicality

Let’s face it: all industries have their own set of technical words and jargon. When strung together, some of these terms can sound meaningless to all but an industry insider. (The poker-faced Turboencabulator spoof is a great laugh at the expense of wordy technocrats).

Meanwhile, when companies use their technical and jargon terms selectively and sparingly, they sound both competent and approachable. It’s like writing ‘we can sort out your email and network problems’, instead of ‘we provide a complete IT solution.’


4.   Active voice

Write in the active voice and you’ll sound like a human being. Write in the passive, and you’ll risk sounding like a machine. (There are valid exceptions for using the passive voice, which is a topic for another day).

The simplest way of making your sentences active is to flip the words around a little so there is a clear ‘doer’ of any action. See the example below.

Instead of this: ‘Consultation with stakeholders has informed the review recommendations contained in this report.’

Try this: ‘The recommendations made in this report draw on our consultations with stakeholders.’


5.   Descriptive words

Be aware of the vocabulary your business uses. When there is just one principal at a company, this is easy – staff end up writing the way the principal speaks. But when the company grows to take on several executives, they must take care to convey the same brand personality in their materials. Think carefully about that personality and how you might express it.

Zany: ‘A tastebud-boggling odyssey of flavours’ (Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream)

Gen Y: ‘We’re pumped you’ve joined our crew’ (Living Social)

Approachable: ‘You can, with CommBank Kaching’ (Commonwealth Bank)


For more thoughts on voice, see my related post on authenticity.

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