In 2009, I set up Plain English Ireland with one idea in mind. I wanted to encourage and support organisations to ditch the jargon and use plain English when they write to their customers.
I was fed up getting government forms I struggled to fill in, irritated by reading reports that buried their key messages and annoyed at being expected to pay for financial products I couldn’t understand.
Now I use my experience as an ex-Irish Times journalist and teacher to help people to write more effectively at work. For example, I’ve helped insurance companies to cut legal jargon from brochures, universities to remove waffle from prospectuses and many public sector agencies to write in a more human and accessible tone of voice.
My aim is to empower people to write clear, concise and accessible reports, web content, emails, brochures and manuals. I love presenting training courses that show people how to transform their writing style quickly and easily. I want course participants feel enthusiastic about writing because I’m so passionate about all its aspects: from punctuation to avoiding jargon. As a grammar geek and co-author of Common Errors in Written English, I also provide editing services to help organisations to feel confident their communications will engage customers.
As a supporter of plain English for better business writing, I lead the Plain English team to design training courses, provide editing services and create style guides.
I’ve helped many of Ireland’s leading financial services companies, legal firms and public sector agencies to simplify their business communications. I’ve successfully worked with entry-level staff, customer service teams, lawyers, academics, marketing teams, managers and CEOs.
My experience includes teaching English as a foreign language so I’m familiar with the challenges faced by writers and readers who don’t have English as their first language. I’ve also lectured on the MA in Journalism course at TU Dublin and at the Digital Marketing Institute in Dublin.
As a journalist with the Irish Times, I was a sub-editor in the features department. I was involved in editing, proofreading and laying out daily features pages, and was seconded to the role of Production Editor of the Weekend magazine. The skills developed there are now shared with organisations which want to strengthen their customer communications.
I was also a freelance writer, specialising in health, travel and the environment. As a writer and sub-editor, I understand how to simplify complex messages, by using language and layout to reach target audiences.
Sarah was an excellent lecturer on the MA in Journalism course at the Dublin Institute of Technology. I have also witnessed her carrying out training work for a number of organisations. In her training, she combines enthusiasm with all the necessary knowledge and skills. This means that her students not only gain the tools and techniques they need, but are highly motivated.
She combines long experience in training with a natural flair: within seconds of the start of a course, trainees can see that they’re going to enjoy it and, at the end of the course, they’re enthusiastic and well-armed for all their writing tasks.
David Quin, Swiftwrite (and former course director, MA in Journalism)
Sarah was a fantastic writing coach. Everyone should get an opportunity to work with her! She brought energy and expertise to her coaching sessions with us. She has succeeded in helping my colleagues and myself write professional reports and documents that are clear, concise and well written. I hope I get the chance to work with Sarah again.
Senior Project Manager, experienced delivering complex high-level projects in Ireland and the US
Sarah is an absolute pleasure to work with, and she obtains great results. The work Sarah did for us enabled us to produce clear, effective corporate communications yet still retain our own style. Brilliant.
Annette Tierney, Theatre at Work