Professional Speaking Association UK

Mountaineering Online…

These last few months have been challenging in more ways than I could ever imagine.  My outdoor work has dried up, but speaking goes on – virtually.  COVID-19 may be preventing us from meeting, but not from speaking. I’ve covered subjects from Science to Space, Jungles to Mountains, Resilience to Mental health and even the 1924 Mt. Everest Expedition.

Speaking to a computer screen is nothing like the experience of being onstage, but the principles remain the same – professionalism, message, timing and quality.  Just because you’re not there, doesn’t mean you can get away with not planning and execution an excellent session.  On the contrary, you have to pick up your game.  

Like outdoor kit, people collect reams of gear to work with, show off or just pile up, which in my view is going over the top.  Virtual speaking is here to stay, so here’s a few thoughts about what has worked for me. The whole set up has cost less than £500.

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Hold Me Now…

Ice Climbing is a sport which many thing crazy, wrong or downright dangerous.  I disagree.  It’s a pure athletic sport, with routes that change year on year, challenging even the most skilled climber.  Variations in the weather can make or break a route, or a season.  It can be made as safe as you wish, but also as challenging as you like.  Physically it’s incredibly demanding, but the mental aspects come harder.  Youre climbing up water, which for much of the year is heading downhill.  Ive recently returned from a weeks climbing in Rjukan, Norway, where icefalls galore await…

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Speaking from Sea Level…

Cunard-Crevasse

“You’re doing what..? Speaking on a cruise ship..? Why..?” These were only some of the barrage of questions I fielded when I announced that I was going to speak on the Cunard Liner Queen Victoria. “You’re a Mountaineer and boats are at sea level..!” I certainly hope they are as I’ve never seen a liner fly, but let’s get past the obvious shock. Besides being a mountaineer, I’m also a speaker.

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Going back to basics…

No matter how experienced we might think we are, at times it is vitally important we go back to basics. When I say that I mean learning once again the simple elements to the skills we have. As a speaker these could be in planning or delivery, and as a skier it could be in position and weights. Recently in Austria I skied on new ski’s and bindings, which brought new and testing sensations to my injured feet. At 42 I found it hard to adapt to my new kit, and soon realised that I needed to go back to basics…Read More »Going back to basics…

Making assumptions…

A few years ago on the slopes above Meribel I bumped into some of the RAF Telemark Ski Team.  They asked me if I had a light, I said no, but offered them a hip-flask full of Whisky.  One of them was a medical officer and noticed my shortened fingers. She asked “are you badly injured?” I explained my situation and within minutes I was having tea with a Major and stood surrounded by people shaking their heads in disbelief.  “You can’t ski telemark without toes!” they said.  It sounded like the same voices that said I’d never climb again after suffering severe frostbite. It was the start of a relationship that has seen me ski with the Army Telemark Ski Association, the GB Telemark Team, lecture at Sandhurst and the Royal Citadel in England, and Rauris in Austria.Read More »Making assumptions…

Taking a risk…

Life is based on risk. We would not have been born unless our mothers took risks, yet the modern world seems to be hell bent on removing them. When I say removing, should I say eradicating them and stersalising life. We have evolved as human beings by taking risks – from planting the first crops to crossing the great oceans of our world.

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20 Years in 1000 words and 5 minutes…



Christmas comes but once a year, and when it comes, it brings good cheer, oh and decorations, shopping, wrapping, panic and bedlam. The modern world is possessed with the desire of want rather than of need, and constantly demands more. I mentioned this to Zena Hawley of the Derby Telegraph as we talked about my recent invitation to Buckingham Palace (see my blog on a Royal Night to Remember).

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Kendal, but without the Mintcake…

The Kendal Mountain Festival is the highlight of the climbing calendar in the UK, but for me it wasn’t always that way.  I had visited the festival years back and even had my Discovery Channel documentary “Nightmare at 20,000ft” premiered there, but I always felt a little lost.  Was it because I was on my own?  Or the fact that I didn’t know a soul?  Who knows, but it all changed one day on the Hornli Ridge.

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Where did I put that Camera..?

As a professional speaker I find it difficult not to criticise others on stage about this or that.  Is their layout good?  Are their images of high quality?  Can the presenter speak well and engage their audience?  This was an evening where I had nothing to worry about.  Julie Summers presented ‘Everest needs you Mr. Irvine’ at Derby Guildhall and stunned us all with her incredible knowledge, depth of research, wonderful pictures and heartfelt passion about her Great Uncle, Sandy Irvine.

Read More »Where did I put that Camera..?