PSA Scotland August 2023: Making Magic from Brick Walls

19 August|12:00 - 15:30|Apex Waterloo - Edinburgh - See full address

About this event

First time visitors to the PSA can buy a half price ticket – just £25 +VAT – for this event!

To get your special discount code, please email [email protected]

Where: APEX Waterloo Place Hotel, Edinburgh EH1 3BG
For anyone travelling by train, Waverley Station is approx. a 5min walk from the venue.


It’s August 2023 in Edinburgh which means… It’s Fringe time! PSA Scotland welcomes two of its own members – Alex Owen-Hill and Alison Smith, who will be helping you in ‘Making Magic from Brick Walls’. Our speakers this month bring the topic of adaptability to the fore in diverse ways – from clowning to the use of metaphor. This promises to be a fun, challenging and engaging experience for all those looking to enhance their speaking skills. In his Masterclass, Alex will illustrate how perspectives and techniques from the world of clowning can improve your ability to take advantage from apparent ‘mistakes’. In her Keynote, Alison will demonstrate how employing the use of metaphor can help you adapt in challenging situations to improve audience engagement!


Masterclass session: The Art of Adaptability: Transforming Mistakes into Magic – with Alex Owen-Hill

Ever heard that phrase, “When life gives you lemons, make a dodgy-looking lemon cheesecake that was far trickier than Nigella made it look on TV?”

Well, on stage, when life gives you a mistake, you should rejoice! So often, speakers shy away from mistakes – scared of being judged or embarrassed.
However, clowning teaches us that mistakes should be embraced, because they can often lead to the most powerful moments.

It’s human nature to seek safety in the familiar. But if you never take a risk, how will you ever know what kind of impact you could have? We speakers may “talk big” about taking risks in life… but then on stage we often fall back on the “tried and tested” (i.e. boring) “rules of public speaking.”

In this dynamic and highly “stupid” session, Alex will pull back the curtains to let us in on some of the counterintuitive things he has been learning from one of the top Clown teachers in the world.

Key takeaways from this session include:

  • Recognising the power of play to stop you from boring your audience to tears.
  • How mistakes can lead to golden moments.
  • Activities and exercises that help you become more adaptable and think on your feet.
  • How to be more in the moment and engage with your audience.
  • Practical ways to toughen up on stage and not take yourself too seriously.


Keynote session: ‘How to talk to the brick wall – engaging those who are ignoring you’ – with Alison Smith

How many times have you declared a conversation as being like you were talking to a brick wall – a description that often leads to you giving up with even trying to talk to the other person again.

What happens though if the language you’re using contains the answers too?

In this keynote we’ll be exploring the insight and potential solutions available when we’re really trying to talk to a brick wall and applying them to the real-life situation.

Unconventional perhaps, and yet a highly effective means of using metaphor to develop action plans for engaging with the seemingly impossible people in your life.

Key takeaways from this session include:

  • Understanding how to mine metaphors in your language for new perspectives and potential options and opportunities when you’re stuck and don’t know what to do.
  • Have identified an action plan for re-engaging with a troublesome person.


Showcase: We will also have a 10minute member ‘Showcase’.


So, don’t miss out on this chance to develop your skills, meet like-minded individuals, and take the next step in your speaking journey. Register now for PSA Scotland’s August 2023 event and unlock your full potential as a speaker.


Tea/coffee and lunch will be provided.
Register for PSA Scotland’s ‘Fringe’ August event today. It will be held at APEX Waterloo Place Hotel, on Saturday 19th Aug 2023.


Looking forward to seeing you there!

Keynote speakers

Alex Owen-Hill
Alison Smith
Alex Owen-Hill

Alex Owen-Hill is a multi-talented (aka indecisive) performer with a passion for speaking, clowning, improv, and stand-up comedy.

With years of improv experience and recent training at a top clown school, Alex believes in infusing top-level performance skills into professional speaking.

His transformative journey has provided him with a more nuanced understanding of authenticity on stage.

Alison Smith

Described as unconventional, thought provoking and inspirational, Alison first started using metaphor as a means of solving problems in the mid 90s. At the time whilst working for a bank she managed to inspire business leaders to be interested in supplier management, a topic they were unenthusiastic about at best. She did this by equating supplier management to plant management in their gardens because, whilst they might not have recognised it, suppliers needed attention much like the plants needed feeding, weeding, watering and even time in the greenhouse.

Since then, she’s taken executives, their boards, teams of professionals and individuals out into nature to use its landscapes as metaphors for the situations they want a different perspective about, or even to uncover what was hidden from view.

The effectiveness of using the metaphor in our language to facilitate change led to Alison to writing ‘Can’t see the wood for the trees – landscaping your life to get back on track’, with many of the examples shared involving her work with procurement and business teams.

More recently in her podcast ‘Landscaping Your Life with Alison Smith’, you’re invited to join her as she shares insight from the landscapes she’s visiting – whether that’s when you can’t see the wood for the trees, are up a creek without a paddle or feel like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. One memorable episode involves her treading water off the coast of Scotland sharing insight as she tries to keep her head and selfie stick with iPhone above water.
Alison’s unique, enthusiastic and quirky perspective allows her to help people in an unconventional way that they may not be used to, but which always gets results.

Event agenda

Someone will be around so feel-free to arrive early
Lunch - Meet and Mingle Networking Session
Share Your Good News
Membership Insight
Member showcase
Masterclass: The Art of Adaptability: Transforming Mistakes into Magic – with Alex Owen-Hill
Tea/coffee break
Keynote session: ‘How to talk to the brick wall - engaging those who are ignoring you’ – with Alison Smith
Wrap Up
Session Ends and we can head off to the Fringe! p.s. Some of us are attending a Fringe show before our event and taking in one or two shows afterwards. Watch for details on our PSA Scotland Facebook groups.

The venue

Apex Waterloo Place – Edinburgh

APEX Waterloo Place Hotel

Get in touch with the organiser

Jim Boyd

Regional President - Scotland

Buy tickets for:

PSA Scotland August 2023: Making Magic from Brick Walls

Ticket types

Members Early Bird
 - £30
  + VAT
Members Late Booker
 - £35
  + VAT
Non Members
 - £50
  + VAT