Category Archives: Communication

What’s holding you back in life? 

I had the pleasure of welcoming William Cassels to Glasgow Toastmasters this week.

Bill left Scotland in 1956 to live in Canada. At the time he had a really bad speech impediment and could only communicate by writing notes on scrap bits of paper.

In 1974, Bill brought his impediment under control by joining Toastmasters. Since then he has spoken in 3 countries, 5 states in the USA, 5 Provinces in Canada, given 1 sermon and performed on 3 cruise ships including the latest Queen Elizabeth.

Bill said, “We have no idea what we can do until we leave our comfort zone.” What a perfect example!

Toastmasters helps people become better speakers and better leaders and operates in 142 countries- with over 16,000 clubs worldwide!

The people you meet, experiences you’ll gain and the opportunities available are endless. It all starts with your first visit. Pop along to a club near you and give it a try!
Give me a shout if you have any questions.


What can you expect at a Toastmasters meeting? Part 2/2

When you come along to your first meeting you’re warmly welcomed at the door. All members have a role for the evening whether its the Toatmaster, ah counter (counting all your ehs, ahs, ums), timekeeper, speaker or evaluator. There are many roles that make up the meeting.

The first session  is an opportunity to take part in table topics. If you are picked you get the chance to deliver an impromptu 2 minute speech on any given subject by the Table Topic Master.  If you’re a guest you can politely decline. It’s a great way to get you thinking on the spot and you soon start to learn the skills of communicating effectively on any subject.

The second part of the meeting is for prepared speeches where 4 members (all at their own level) each deliver a speech- whether they are working through the competent communication manual or one of the advanced manuals. You will notice throughout the meeting everyone who has a role receives feedback.

Competition season 

It’s competition season at Toastmasters where clubs all over the world compete in club competition, area, district and the world finals!

Every March Toastmasters members get the opportunity to compete in the International Speech and the Evaluation contest.  It’s a great way to improve yourself even further as competing in the competition makes you focus that little bit comp

This year I won both the International and Evaluation contest at the Glasgow Toastmasters club. yayyyyy!




I came 2nd in the Evaluation and 3rd in the Speech contest at the area level.  The top 2 places go through to the next level Divison Scotland so I’ll be competing (TODAY!! 24 April 2016) in the Evaluation contest at the Divison Scotland competition in the Tron Theatre Glasgow.

Looks to be a really fun day with a workshop in the afternoon ‘Credibility Killers and how to avoid them’ then the Speech and Evaluation competitions. I’ll post a blog in the next few days about the event and provide insight and tips from the fabby workshop.

*Update* 25 April-   I came 2nd place in the Evaluation Contest at Division Scotland.  The speeches were recorded – I’ll upload when I get it. Always good to get feedback 🙂 

One of my favourite Toastmasters speeches at the mo is the World International Speech competition winner from 2014 – Dananjaya Hettiarachi-  ‘I see something’.  Def worth a watch!

Pop along to your local Toastmasters club

I can honestly say Toastmasters is one of the best places to go if you want to improve your communication or leadership skills in anyway or even if you just want to be around like minded positive people.  Glasgow Toastmasters is an amazing club with some of the nicest and most interesting people you’ll ever meet.  You’ll not only improve your communication and leadership skills but you’ll have many laughs and meet really good friends along the way.

You always learn something new every single time- guaranteed!

The above is only just a glimpse of what Toastmasters has to offer.

If you want to get in touch about Glasgow Toastmasters, I’m always happy to chat- drop me an email

Check out this link for a list of Toastmaster clubs across Scotland. 


What’s Toastmasters all about? Part 1/2


What’s it all about?  I’ve had lots of friends and colleagues ask me what happens at Toastmasters. There always seems to be a misconception that it’s a bunch of high flying business people meeting together to clink wine glasses and deliver dinner speeches.

tmIt is soooo far from that.  I started my Toastmasters journey in 2012- and I’ve never looked back.  The club is full of friendly and supportive members who are all there for different reasons- students, members starting their own business, people already running their own business, Doctors, freelancers, people seeking work, introverts and extroverts.  The club has members from all of walks of life and is open to people of all ages between 18 to 100! Toastmasters is international – there are over 15,200 clubs in 135 countries. It’s not uncommon for members to pop into Glasgow Toastmasters when they are visiting Scotland- we’ve had visits from members from all over including Georgia, Australia, South Africa and Switzerland.  I visited a few clubs in London when I was down there for a few months.

It does not matter if you are shy or overly confident- Toastmasters has something for everyone.

Toastmasters offers a structured programme you can work through at your own pace. Everything in Toastmasters is evaluated- speeches, speech evaluations (providing feedback on speeches), how you delivered specific roles like the Ah counter or Wordmaster. It’s truly fantastic and you won’t find any better platform to improve your communication and leadership skills.

Competent Communication manual

This website sums up the process on the first ten speeches- below:

  • Speech 1: The Ice Breaker — The first speech of the Toastmasters program is about introducing yourself to your peers, providing a benchmark for your current skill level, and standing and speaking without falling over.
  • Speech 2: Organize Your Speech — Introduces the basic concepts of organizing a speech around a speech outline.
  • Speech 3: Get to the Point — Clearly state your speech goal, and make suredg that every element of your speech focuses on that goal.
  • Speech 4: How to Say It — Examines word choice, sentence structure, and rhetorical devices.
  • Speech 5: Your Body Speaks — Shows how to complement words with posture, stance, gestures, facial expressions, and eye contact.
  • Speech 6: Vocal Variety — Guides you to add life to your voice with variations in pitch, pace, power, and pauses.
  • Speech 7: Research Your Topic — Addresses the importance of backing up your arguments with evidence, and touches on the types of evidence to use.
  • Speech 8: Get Comfortable With Visual Aids — Examines the use of slides, transparencies, flip charts, whiteboards, or props.
  • Speech 9: Persuade With Power — Discusses audience analysis and the different forms of persuasion available to a speaker.
  • Speech 10: Inspire Your Audience

Once you complete your competent communication manual you gain acknowledgement from Toastmasters and then move on to your advanced manuals.

Competent Leadership manual 

It’s not just all about communication you know…  Leadership skills also play an equally important part.

The manual is broken down into different categories- for example, time keeping, planning, organising, facilitating, motivating and mentoring.

Within each category there are a range of different roles and tasks you work through to achieve your Leadership title- including taking on roles like the general evaluator, Toastmaster of the evening, ah counter, timekeeper.

Also taking on a role on the committee, organising events, helping others on their Toastmasters journey through mentoring and/or being on the committee for high leadership projects.

Want to find out the specifics? This webpage goes into more detail about the leadership side:


Stay tuned tomorrow for the blog 2/2… ‘What can you expect when you come along to a Glasgow Toastmasters meeting’


Stories worth telling…

Woooooo! We have launched our new Big Lottery Funding programmes in Scotland. The launch went ahead on Thursday 26th November. Big Lottery staff across the office visited Big Lottery funded projects all over Scotland, from the Borders to the Shetland Islands! Staff and projects took part in sharing their stories on social media. Check out #BigScotland on Twitter and have a look at the Big Scotland staff and projects moments….
I created this video to introduce our new funding plans and new approach for 2015-2020.

On Friday (27th Nov) I attended the ‘Art of Brilliant Storytelling’ in London, hosted by Camelot. The event was an opportunity to bring together the National IMG_1551(1)Lottery family, including Camelot, National Lottery Promotions Unit, distributors like Big Lottery/ Heritage Lottery Fund and partner agencies.  It’s not an event that has ever happened before but I think it was really successful and I loved the whole experience.
The only thing I would say was missing was a hashtag!! A few of us were tweeting but there was no hashtag announced at the start. This would have been more effective to bring together thoughts and comments as the speeches and events were going on.
The morning session, at ITV Studios, was jam packed full of speeches from a range of professionals from TV, press, digital and film. The aim was to share how to use stories in an effort to engage your audiences from news stories to conveying your organisations messages.

“No story lives unless someone wants to listen.” JK Rowling


Really loved this! The resident ITV doodler summarised the speeches on the wall (full scribble wall below)

Head of News ITV- don’t just deliver the obvious. If there is a local story- seek the people who know about the story, whether its family or friends. You will be amazed what can be unravelled from people in the sideline. They may have a story to share themselves with a whole new perspective.


‘The Suffragette’ at London’s Imperial War Museum

It was fascinating to hear how data is taking over everything. In fact, it has been predicted by 2030 there will no longer be a need for journalists. Computers will have the ability to churn out news updates. However individuals telling stories in different ways will never fade… only humans have the ability to reach out and capture others attention at an emotional level to deliver a message.

In the afternoon we were treated to a Lottery funded film ‘The Suffragete’ at the London Imperial War Museum.  We heard a quick update from the producer of the film and how lottery monies contribute towards the British film industry.


I always get this impression from people that ‘storytelling’ is such a wanky term. However wankyness aside… there is truth in it. Call it what you may but ‘storytelling’ is something that will always be relevant, it connect us as humans and keeps us all engaged.


What kind of communicator are you? Part 2/3

Ever find there are people you just instantly click with and others you don’t?  The people you instanly click with at work will more than likely be the same type as you.

Today’s blog focusses on the Dominant (D) and Influence (I) types from the DISC communication styles.

DONALDThe ‘D’ type celebrity

Donald Trump
David Letterman
Hilary Clinton
Robert DeNiro

                            The ‘I’ type celebrityBILL

Bill Clinton
Andre Agassi
Will Smith
Oprah Winfrey

The table below breaks down the characteristics, includes tips on how to communicate with these types and how to give feedback.  I’ve split the ‘D’ and ‘I’ types into a table to make it easier to compare and easier to digest…


Do you recognise any qualities in yourself in the D and I types? You may notice you have some qualities in different DISC types but everyone will naturally have a primary type they belong to.

disc.When you learn about all four types you’ll start noticing the traits in your colleagues or people you are networking with. It has been acknowledged that a successful team will include a mixture of the different types of people.

In recognising the ways people communicate you can adapt your own communication style in order to be more effective.

The third and final part of this blog series will be uploaded soon, looking at the Conscientious and Steadiness communication types. Stay tuned!

Blog sources

This is where I got the information.  Incredible wee podcasts!  Give them a listen! Worthwhile (especially if you prefer listening rather than reading) 🙂

Dominant type –
Influence type –

Celebrity types-

Are you communicating effectively? Part 1/3

I’ve learned over the years communication is the most important skill in both your personal and professional life.  You could be the most intelligent and capable person in your profession, but if you don’t communicate effectively you run the risk of being underestimated and misunderstood.

When it comes down to it we are all a bunch of complex creatures with differing farm-animalspersonalities. Our minds process things in different ways and at varying speeds. We all communicate in a way that we feel is most effective.

Although what you believe is the most effective way of communicating may not be the best way for someone else. In any given situation, the message could mean the same thing but people can be express it in different ways. This can result in misinterpretation and confusion. In fact, you could say miscommunication results in the beginnings paperbagheadsof office politics. This is usually prominent in an open plan office with more than 50 people- all on different roles, at varying levels and all having their own unique expectations.
Some of us are people focussed, others are task focussed. None of us are exactly the same.

DISC (Dominance, Influence, Conscientious, Steadiness) suggests there are four styles of communication, we all at some point touch on these types depending on the situation. However it is suggested we all have a primary and a secondary type.
DISC gives you the opportunity to spot people’s style indisc. a professional setting through particular behaviours- verbal, vocal and body language. If you recognise the signs you will be able

to identify the style of communication they use. As a result you can modify your own communication style to suit.  Communication is something that can always be improved.

My next couple of blogs will break down the characteristics of the DISC types and how you can adapt your communication to effectively interact with them. This can be considered from all different levels whether you are a manager or not.