Don’t Go There.. #LiveThere

Airbnb have recently launched their latest campaign #LiveThere

The Airbnb CMO Jonathan Mildenhall aims to capture the essence of not visiting a place as a tourist but living there as a local (even if it’s just for one night). The company are digging deep into insight of the locals within places to visit. Airbnb’s app has updated features which include guidebooks from locals themselves.

airbnb1This not only separates the company from their competitors but it also offers potential customers that little bit more- experiencing the true feel for the city from the people who actually live there.  Find out more on their website.

Airbnb are very switched on when it comes to social media and recognise the importance of it when connecting with their customers. They cleverly focus their efforts on the appropriate social media platforms to use for their audience and take a personal approach when engaging with customers on Facebook or Twitter. Furthermore Airbnb ensure a range of teams within the company are clued up on social media. In doing this all teams, whether it is sales, customer service or operations, can truly understand customers needs from their own work skill set. Therefore integrating social media across the organisation which improves the overall connection with the companies audience.

‘Think global, Act local’…  this is a strong message for Airbnb’s external audience but the airbnb 2same applies internally in order to ensure they really understand their audiences needs.

Social media is not just a tool- it’s a way of working and used effectively can improve your connections with your audiences and transform your organisations overall goals.

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’


If you want your audiences to trust you- Here’s what you need to do…

If you expect your audiences to trust in your organisation- make sure you trust in your employees.

Trust is key for groups and organisations when enabling their employees/volunteers to use their social media channels.

A tweet from a named persons account will have far more resonance than a corporate account. Social media is all about engaging and building relationships with others.

If an organisation enables employees to have their own voice through their own social media accounts- this will create a far greater impact than an organisation that creates rules and imposes restrictions.

I’ve worked with groups who make it compulsory that their communications members using social media have to get their tweets signed off. I’m even talking about generic/ engaging/ chatty tweets.

We have too many cooks in the kitchenWhat?! It’s actually ridiculous when you think about it. By the time the tweets go round several different people in the committee/ senior management team- all personality and authenticity is stripped away.

This makes the tweets sound overly rehearsed, corporate and even worse… lacking in personality.



Let go of the controllet it go

There needs to be an understanding from your group’s committee/ management team.
Imagine you imposed the same views on employees/volunteers day to day interactions with each other and their customers as you do with social media. What would that be like?
You trust them and their ability as people to communicate so what makes social media any different?
Consider social media as part of your organisation – it’s a living and breathing entity. Social media is here to stay. Trust makes it grow.


Typos can be a good thing on social media

createIn fact- it probably helps by adding authenticity to the voice behind the account!
When you get past the premise that things really don’t need to be perfect- you will be amazed how your social media channels will grow.
When employees have freedom on social media, they contribute to raising awareness of your organisation and the overall friendly/approachable reputation you want to achieve.


Top tips

  • Have social media guidelines- but don’t make them too restrictive.
  • Trust in your employees/volunteers and watch the creative magic unfold.
  • Keep it real. Minor mistakes/typos are a good thing- it shows we are human.


Starbucks have the right idea- worth a read ‘How to turn your entire staff into a social media army’

There is still a place for traditional media

I attended a digital meetup event the other night in Glasgow. One of the speakers mentioned something that got me squirming… the way he delivered it didn’t help much.
The speaker (we will call him Joe) was promoting his social media platform. Amongst a colourful array of swear digimediawords he said to the audience several times “journalism is on its arse”…

Unfortunately Joe didn’t take into account the speaker after him was in fact a journalist from Channel 4…. *awks*

When I think about it… Joe’s main focus is his social media platform. Hence traditional media would not be on his radar. This got me thinking… a lot of people who enter digital/social media jobs after Uni may not require the skills for traditional media.

It’s more those trained in traditional media that are required to adapt their skills to integrate digital into their role- in response to the ever changing media landscape.

Perhaps this is what Joe failed to recognise and as a result he could only base it on his own experience.

If Joe had done more research he would have offered more insight on his own views.

Also a little research on the other speakers wouldn’t have done him any harm. At least he could carefully craft his views in an appropriate way and provide reasoning… rather than slandering other peoples professions.

New media v traditional media 
uk imageI completely understand new media has changed the way we communicate. In fact, statistics in 2015 indicate 59% of the 64.1 million people living in the UK are active on social media. believe it or not… traditional media still plays an important part in UK media. The Digital Reuters report 2015, states a total of 83% of the UK population still rely on offline broadcasters and 63% on newspapers. Surprising eh?!

As much as journalism is not what it used to be and is perceived to be declining… the stats show there is still a high demand for traditional media.

This nifty report can be found here…  (A good resource if you are in digital and working on digi work reports).


Peter Geoghegan from Channel 4 responded to comments made by the previous speaker. He acknowledged the media landscape has changed, but highlighted he wouldn’t feel comfortable relying solely on bloggers for news and factual information. Correct!

Peter mirrored my own thoughts. When something goes viral on social media – traditional media tends to provide the stamp of approval for factual accuracy.

Yes, the media landscape has changed and social media plays a huge part of that. However as much as journalism doesn’t have the same impact as it once did. There is still space for it in a new media world, particularly investigative journalism.

Integration is key! Clever thought and innovation should be considered to Social-Media-PRmaximise the potential of both traditional media and new media. Traditional media will still provide the reach you need and new media will enable engagement with your own audiences.

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.