Category Archives: Toastmasters

Another TMA down

For those not in the know; a TMA is a Tutor Marked Assignment and I finished my second one (of four) for this course. I had to bring the deadline forward for myself by a week because the actual deadline clashed with the end of a trip to Orlando where I was a) seeing Mickey Mouse b) speaking at a work conference.

It was also a busy time at work, so I was certainly glad of the break, but the combined stress of that and the TMA did fluster me a little. Still, I worked hard and got a good result, so that’s pleasing.

I have felt with this second block of the H800 course a lot more, connected. Like this (distance and online learning) is a topic I actually know something about and feel more like part of the community, rather than an onlooker, trying to break in. I hope this continues

I have been following some people on twitter from the Open University world of MAODE (the programme has been running for 20 years this year)  and would like to attend a conference o Open Education Research or distance/online learning in the future. Those most relevant seem to have already happened this year sadly; I note one ( was at Milton Keynes, fingers crossed I might be able to go next year.


Oh yes, the Toastmasters conference! That went very well and my workshop (Speaking to difficult audiences, delivered with fellow Toastmaster and Mentee Helen) was well received. Hopefully I will get some feedback/official photos that I can share. But I am proud to be able to say that the CEO of Toastmasters International, Dan Rex, was in the front row.




So, here I am, logging into my blog again.

I now (for my sins) work in London, for the private sector! Shock horror. Its been an interesting change, the running has fallen by the wayside, but I am sure I will pick it up again when it suits, it is never too late.

I have taken up cross-stitch and knitting (the latter very badly). Which have been really good for my mental health and generally just feeling more relaxed. Hopefully I will get around to putting up some pictures soon.

I am also very fortunate that in this new job I am able to travel and deliver speeches/presentations. So far (in about a year) I have been to:

  • Anaheim (oh that’s a good point, I can share some Disney photos!)
  • Indonesia (Jakarta)
  • Montreal
  • Shanghai
  • Paris
  • Sarajevo
  • Dubai
  • Cairo
  • Amman (Jordan)
  • Beirut (Lebanon)
  • Bucharest
  • Nanjing (and Shanghai again)

In the next couple of weeks I am delivering a workshop at a Toastmasters district conference, which was another ambition of mine. The workshop is on “Speaking to difficult audiences”. I am really looking forward to it.

I have also gone back to school and am back studying with the Open University, where I am working on a module called H800 Technology-enhanced learning: practices and debates, which is the first part of a Masters in Online and Distance Education. Right, yes, now you get it! 🙂 It’s a very different study experience to my last Masters with the OU on Classics where I had a physical reader and a folder where I compiled all my notes. I am using a google doc as my “folder” writing everything in there. Seems to be working ok, one TMA down (in which I got 69% so pretty chuffed with that).

Reflections on my 2015

2015 was a pretty huge year for me, some lessons I’ve learned and some highlights are below.



In January 2015 I ran/led my first direct mail campaign (of course I have been involved with them before but this one was my baby as I was head of the team at the time) with my team and we smashed all previous records raising over £250k with an impressive ROI. I still can’t quite believe I did this and I think it will certainly be one of my proudest work-related achievements for many many years.

In 2015 I have had the pleasure of having two terrific bosses who I have learned a lot from and have taught me so much. Although I am no longer managed by either, I still talk to them both and trust that our relationships will continue for many years. What is particularly interesting to me is that one of these people taught me that sometimes things happen for a reason and I shouldn’t let “now” get in the way of what is really important to me. I dreaded his arrival as he was to be the permanent solution to my “acting up” role – it turned out it was pretty much the best thing that could have happened, I loved my time “acting up” but, deep down, I didn’t really want to be designing mailings and liaising with printers and designers, I just thought I did because that was the opportunity that was there and was being threatened. I’m now much happier in a new role with a direct report to line manage and much more scope to play with and do cool stuff with data.





I joined my local Toastmasters branch in May and have never looked back.

I decided to enter my first proper contest, Humorous Speech, starting out at the Club level in September. I won that and moved to the Area where I won again and advanced to Division level, which necessitated a trip to Bristol. After unexpectedly winning here (and being the first person in my club to get to a District final in HS since 1999), I then won the District final becoming District 91 (UK South) Champion.

Selina Jones at District Contest - Nov 15

I hope to write more about the experience in the near future.


Having attended a number of CASE conferences as part of my job, I set a long-term goal at the start of 2015 to speak at one. Little did I know that by the end of 2015, I would have spoken at two!

I formed part of a panel (on solutions to problems) at the Development Services conference held in Birmingham in October. I was disappointed with my performance at this panel – having expressed an interest in speaking on it in June, I wasn’t told until late September that I was wanted (I assume someone dropped out) which meant I didn’t have much time to prepare what I was going to say (let alone remember what my original idea which I thought had been rejected had been). A panel session also meant using a mic behind a lectern. Ugh.

My other slot came at the Regular Giving conference in December (which I had attended in 2014), this year held in Leeds. I had been paired with someone I hadn’t met from UCL to talk about our approaches to predictive modelling. We had a couple of phone conversations and I was able to travel up to London to meet him face to face and do a dry run through the week before (thanks to going to a West End show!).
I was happy with my performance at this conference, I came up with some good slides, had prepared what I was going to say and had some terrific feedback from someone in the industry who I greatly admire who attended my session @adriansalmon  and from the Conference Chair herself.



My greatest achievements were at the start of the year – getting two 20 mile PBS in March, managing to duck under 3 hours in Oakley 20. After an incredibly disappointing 8th marathon (which led me to write this post) – I finished in 4:50:48 – so in effect it took me nearly two hours to run a further six miles! Stupid marathons… I didn’t do that much running for the rest of the year.

I had an enjoyable half marathon in June where I supported a stranger to complete their first ever half in 02:01:58 (and wrote about it here). I also completed Oxford half again in October completely untrained having not run longer than 4-5.5 miles at a stretch a maximum of twice a week, I managed to finish in 01:57:35 which, I was actually pretty pleased with. I ran most of it with my neighbour and I drove us there as well so it was nice to have some company.

I tried another Men’s Health SOTF which I had loved so much the previous year, but sadly it coincided with the only cold week we have had this winter (in November) and I could barely use my hands let alone climb. I don’t think I will be back, it’s not worth the risk of another freezing cold day (I’ve got nothing against running in the cold, it’s the obstacle side of it that means I can’t do it, if I can’t feel my hands I can’t climb or pull myself anywhere).