Why dyslexics make great communicators

So deeply entrenched in #CommsHero is our next guest, it is hard to believe that he isn’t on the Resource payroll! Having held roles in business associations, renewable energy, and higher education, Ed Thomas is now in the housing sector, leading all communications and marketing strategy and campaigns at The Wrekin Housing Group, a social housing and care provider that drives social value and makes a difference to people’s lives across Shropshire and Staffordshire.

Away from his laptop Ed spends time with his young family and tries to keep fit – which isn’t helped by his passion for sweet treats.

A storyteller, trust builder, reputation manager, communicator and marketer – he is also dyslexic.

With ever increasing understanding of dyslexia, the traditional views are being dismissed. Dyslexic brains excel in critical thinking, emotional intelligence, creativity and communication, skills amongst the most in demand by employers for the 21st century workplace. In this episode Ed tells us about his journey with dyslexia and how he capitalises on his dyslexic superpowers. Cape optional, though he never leaves the house without his..

Ed Thomas

Group head of Marketing and Communications, Wrekin Housing Group

Key topics

As many as 1 in 5 people have dyslexia. Says Ed: “Go back to your school days and there’s probably a good handful of people in your class at school that had dyslexia. It might not have been identified, depending on how long ago you went to school, and there’s some great campaigning organisations out there raising awareness with teachers, helping them identify dyslexia.

“When it’s identified, you can put mechanisms in place. You can help people explore how they can overcome some of the challenges and allow them to flourish.”

“I was identified when I was 8 or 9 [years old].

“Dyslexic brains are wired a little bit differently, so they process information in a slightly different way. But also what makes dyslexia interesting is every dyslexic is different so some dyslexics will just see words on a printed page, and they’ll be crawling over the page.

“Imagine trying to read words that are a moving target. Some might be able to read it perfectly well but maybe there’s a bit more of a memory issue. Two minutes later and they’ve got no idea what they’ve just read.

“So it can manifest in totally different ways.

“There’s some brilliant technologies now that help people kind of overcome this, because the traditional view of dyslexics can be that you’re a bit lazy.”

Ed cites the fundamental skills for people working in communications, which are exactly the areas dyslexics can struggle with. He says: “There’s a little bit of overcoming adversity because even now when I sit down and read something I probably have to read it twice and it will take me longer.

“If I can get that information in a slightly different way, what my dyslexic brain enables me to do is to analyse it and make connections in slightly different ways that a lot of other people won’t be able to untap.

“The true grammar aficionados will probably be sitting a bit uneasy in their seats, but I’m more than happy to have a conversation with you directly about why sometimes grammar doesn’t matter.”

For Ed, he sees the traits often associated with dyslexia as being particular strengths around critical thinking and analysis, as well as emotional intelligence (a topic covered on the podcast by Jules Loveland).

There are people out in the comms community who are dyslexic. I’ve had a couple of really interesting conversations with people who I think would take a pretty similar view to me that there are some some really interesting advantageous skills that if you just learn how to tap into them in the right way, you can unlock imagination and the creativity side of things.

“The technology has moved on so much so why wouldn’t we use technology to help us overcome challenges that any of us may face.

“I think sharing the story is quite important because then we’re thinking about stripping out jargon for plain English; how are we presenting things on a page or on a screen? If it’s too cluttered some people will find it really difficult. I’m on this journey at the moment where I’m trying to learn about other conditions.

“At its most basic accessible communications is just making it easy to understand. And if you’re struggling to understand it, there’s no way your audience will understand it.”

Being given a label can help you come to terms with it and put in strategies to cope, says Ed, speaking of other neurodiverse traits. There’s a wealth of information, from charities to websites, (to this podcast, wink) so it doesn’t have to be something you go through alone. Unsurprisingly, Ed offers himself as tribute for anyone who would like to talk about it.

A final thought

Only that our #CommsHero community is friendly and inclusive and can help with anything and everything! Running, biscuit recommendations, you name it! Says Ed: “I think everyone is more than happy to share experiences and there are people that I’ve met through the network who I can drop them a quick message or a quick call.”

The show notes are the creation of friend of #CommsHero Teela Clayton.


This is Dyslexia – Kate Griggs

British Dyslexia Association

Dyslexia Factoids

  • As many as 1 in 5 people are dyslexic
  • Dyslexia is genetic – it runs in families
  • Dyslexic brains are wired slightly differently, meaning they have a different way of processing information
  • Charities such as Made by Dyslexia and the British Dyslexia Association are campaigning hard to change the narrative around dyslexia raising awareness and understanding with schools and employers.
  • Albert Einstein, Keira Knightly, Will Smith, Lewis Hamilton are just a few famous dyslexics

This episode is sponsored by Blink. The world’s first enterprise app designed exclusively for frontline workers.