Featured TC: Meredith Evans - Best TC Again

December 2015

It’s not the winning that counts, but taking part, according to the WriteMark Best Plain English Technical Communicator for 2015, Meredith Evans.

The Applications Analyst for Synlait Milk recently picked up the award at a ceremony celebrating the winners and finalists for the WriteMark Plain English Awards 2015 held at the Wellington City Gallery.

It was the second time she’s taken home the accolade (she also won the award in 2010). But while the sheen will never come off being recognised at a national level, Meredith says the greatest value from the experience is always the feedback you get from the judges.

And you don’t have to be a winner to receive that feedback.

“I was pretty stoked by the win because I wasn’t expecting to win at all. But to be honest I would have been pretty gutted if I hadn’t been shortlisted as a finalist,” she says. “If you’re shortlisted you get heaps of valuable feedback from the judges on your sample work that would be hard to find anywhere else. For that fact alone, I’d say if you’ve ever thought about it – just give it a crack. You never know what might happen.”

Meredith’s role at Synlait sees her work across a variety of training and documentation projects, a fact that was reflected in the diversity of the samples she sent in as part of her entry into this year’s awards.

Her entrance portfolio included material for software procedures, instructions for using Synlait’s new phone systems, and guidelines for saving files on Synlait’s network, with the samples displaying single-sourcing for multiple platforms.

“I think the judges liked the structuring, navigation, active voice - basically all the stuff we all know as technical communicators. But I think the variety of work helped as well, and I guess I’m lucky in that respect.”

Meredith works directly with staff at Synlait, training them on systems as well as receiving their feedback. However, while she knew winning a WriteMark Plain English Award can add kudos to your career, she was still surprised by the reaction from people she works with every day as one of the company’s few technical communicators.

“The award is definitely useful to have on your CV, but internally within Synlait it’s been amazing. It just gives you credibility. People come up to you and want to talk about plain English!”

Five tips for entering the WriteMark Plain English Awards:

  1. Try to provide a real variety of samples that display single-sourcing applied across multiple platforms.
  2. Spend time on the cover sheets as well as the samples themselves. They provide the judges with valuable context to see your work in the correct light.
  3. Consider all the categories, not just the one that most applies to your situation. There’s no reason you can’t apply in multiple categories.
  4. See the entrance process as a good investment. It can take time, but the potential rewards can be worth it.
  5. Don’t procrastinate! There’s nothing to lose from giving it a go.

“It’s great for career development and improving your own work,” Meredith says, “and although taking the time to enter can feel like a pain at the time, the feedback you can get feels pretty awesome.”