Great TechCommNZ turnout at 2018 Plain English Awards
Katie Haggath brings us the low-down on TechCommNZ's achievements at this year's Plain English Awards.
It was my first time attending the Plain English Awards in Wellington, and I was blown away. Plain English Communicators flooded the foyer of the Wellington City Gallery, all dressed to the nines and with huge smiles on their faces.
The venue was magnificent. The acoustics in the City Gallery were perfect for the multitalented writers of Write Ltd to serenade us into our seats, and the amphitheatre was packed. Hopeful finalists jostled for the aisle seats while expert photographer, Rebecca McMillan, snapped photos of the audience.
Wellington Mayor, Justin Lester, gave the opening address and wasn’t shy about poking fun at his own ‘politician-speak’. And lawyer (and comedian) James Elliott was brilliant as our MC for the evening. As James said, the standards get higher every year, and some entries were turned down for not meeting standards. Everyone who achieved finalist can be incredibly proud of their achievement!
It was exciting for me to see so many of our members attending the Awards. In addition to the Best Plain English Technical Communicator, our members were involved in organising the awards, involved as sponsors, finalists in other categories, or were there just to cheer everyone on.
Best Plain English Technical Communicator 2018
This year, the Best Plain English Technical Communicator of the year was Kaye Rayner! Former TechCommNZ President Emma Harding presented the award.
Kaye Rayner is a senior documentation consultant with Sysdoc in Auckland, specialising in the design and development of corporate and technical documentation and training materials. She has worked across a broad range of clients and industries in the ten years she has been with Sysdoc, adapting her writing to suit the end-user’s needs and the documentation medium. Kaye is a strong advocate for the end-user and always considers it her duty to make their job as easy as possible by producing clear, concise and complete materials.
Want to be next year’s winner? The judges had this to say of Kaye’s submission:
“Overall, the consultant did a good job of keeping instructions brief and to the point. Rayner did a fine job of creating simple, active sentences that easily help readers know what they need to do. Instructions on the whole are brief and to the point. Rayner used lots of simple, logical and clear sentences and active voice in action sentences.”
Unfortunately, Kaye couldn’t make it on the night. Her colleague Anna Lorkin accepted the award on her behalf.
Best Plain English Turnaround 2018
Shelly Davies was attending the Plain English Awards with two of her clients. Over the past year, Shelly has been working with Brydon Davidson to overhaul his accounting business. Brydon's company is Infinite Possibilities Ltd. He was a finalist in the Best Plain English Legal Document category, and the winner of the Best Plain English Turnaround!
Want to be next year’s winner? The judges had this to say:
“This is a damn clever turnaround. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. A remarkable change! You’ve taken a legal document and turned it on its head. It’s brilliantly unconventional, witty, exudes personality, and was a pleasure to read. The word choice is casual and direct with a very distinct tone. Some people will clearly consider it unbusiness-like and will not do business with this company. Others will find it refreshing and will move forward — exactly the intent to weed out those clients who find it offensive and to sign on those who find it refreshing.”
Brydon couldn’t make it on the night, but that’s okay because Shelly accepted the award on his behalf.
Shelly’s other client was Andy Baldwin of Wineworks (Marlborough), who was a finalist for the Plain English Champion — Best Individual or Organisation award. He single-handedly turned around all the company's SOPs (across 3 sites) over the last 18 months. The standards get higher every year and making the shortlist, let alone the final three, is a huge achievement!
Best Plain English Website — Private 2018
This is the first time I’ve entered the Plain English Awards myself. I’m thrilled to have been a finalist. I’ll be aiming even higher next year!
I’ve really got a lot out of this process, especially the in-depth feedback returned from the Plain English judges. They’ve given me some great pointers to improve my website for next year!
It’s also been a great marketing opportunity for me, and a chance to showcase my Plain English ‘street cred’ to potential clients. It turns out customers have a lot of faith in your skills when you have an award to back them up! I definitely recommend you start thinking now about what you want to enter for the 2019 awards – I know I have plenty of ideas!