The senior school I went to has a motto: ‘Plus est en vous’ or ‘there’s more in you’.
It’s a statement that comes to my mind most days. During challenging times, if I am doubting myself or if things are going well, this motto grounds me and inspires me to deliver more and dig deep in whatever I am doing.
Communication has always been a central focus of my career. On completing my degree in International Business with French and Italian, I began working for a communication and presentations skills consultancy in London with a huge variety of clients from celebrities to FTSE 100 companies. I worked my way up from receptionist to PA to in-house trained consultant and spent four years travelling Europe delivering communication skills programmes to companies like Mattel, Glaxo Smith Kline, UBS Wealth Management and Oracle.
My time in London was a fantastic experience and I learnt a great deal but a move back to Scotland was on the cards, via a few weeks out for reflection in New Zealand. During this time I realised how much passion and love I had for the work I was delivering. The transformational impact I witnessed as clients went from nervous and mumbling when under pressure to confident skilled speakers had a huge impact on me. I knew I had to continue in this field.
Back in Scotland I recognised a gap in the market; some of the clients I’d worked with in London were north of the border, so I anticipated a Scottish based service would be welcome. I established Maryanne Johnston Ltd in 2004 with the aim of being the best communication and presentations skills coach in the country. Over the past two decades, we have grown in reach and reputation to get to where we are today.
One of the things I hear time and again from my clients – and the reason I believe my business has been so successful – is that I have been where my clients are. I am not a natural presenter and in fact I would rather hand the microphone to someone else than stand up on stage myself. This might seem a strange thing for a Communication Skills Coach to admit – but it’s this very understanding (according to clients) that makes my training so effective.
Knowing there is a solution to feeling this way – that there is a proven formula and approach to control nerves and become confident, clear and concise – I feel compelled to help others learn this too and free themselves of insecurities and anxieties that hold them back. I believe anyone can be a great presenter. It’s a science rather than an art. Once you understand what makes you good, there is nothing to stop you from being excellent with some techniques, practice and coaching.
Since starting back in 2004 there have been many changes in the landscape of who I work with, notably the huge increase in the number of inspiring entrepreneurs in Scotland. The expectation for entrepreneurs to be able to sell their business in a slick and sophisticated way through pitches has become standard. I’ve helped thousands of entrepreneurs prepare and deliver their pitches to all sorts of audiences and increase their success.
“Our workshop sessions together have led to a huge transformation in my life.
Your persuasive and reassuring manner enabled me to subdue the personal and social anxiety that has restricted every part of my life since childhood.
Only 3 months ago it was incomprehensible that I could have delivered a speech that not only held the attention of an audience, but also made them laugh and finally enthusiastically applaud.”
Michael, Cumbria Tree Growers, CivTech 4.0 Cohort
A growing business
As my business grew I had to evaluate where I wanted to take it. Options for expansion and delegation were there but I knew that delivering the training myself is what I wanted to continue to do. So I accepted I needed help to manage the business and admin side of things, to allow me to continue as we got busier.
Lynne came on board in 2016 as my PA and works behind the scenes to ensure that I can deliver the best possible product to our clients. Lynne shares my passion to continue to evolve the company, always strive to do better and deliver the best quality offering in Scotland.
I am always thinking of ways to expand my reach and make my training more accessible, creating different ways for clients to benefit from our content. So we created a podcast – ‘The Agile Speaker’ which has had over 3.5k downloads around the world!
I’ve brought on board marketing experts to help create really fantastic content and articles for the website.
We also created The Agile Speaker, a digital course accessible anywhere, any time, giving users the freedom to learn at a pace that suits them and review when needed.
What’s to come
My goal is to continue to personally deliver top quality transformative programmes and empower my clients to not just become skilled in presenting and communicating, but to enjoy it. To feel relaxed, confident and in control and in turn see the impact this has on their business.
My next venture will be into the world of book writing where I hope to create a valuable and entertaining resource and a place to bring together all of my expertise and teachings.
Overall I will continue to strive to be the best at what I do in Scotland, positively impacting people across the UK to shed their inhibitions and fears and embrace their inner confidence.