How to Make An Impact When Speaking

Jon Torrens spent some time with the One Nucleus team earlier this year working with us on our communications skills. While I like to think all the team are excellent communicators, we can all benefit from a refresh and a test of our own conventional wisdom. As an ex stand-up comic, Jon was the perfect choice. We have asked him to share some of his insights and you find them below. We hope you enjoy reading them and find something inspirational and vibrant in his messages. The One Nucleus Team.

“Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools talk because they have to say something.” – Plato

Pause, Record

In Western society we fear the silence in a conversation, and feel we have to fill the gaps, which can result in “um”s, “ah”s and conversational fluff, all of which can damage how you’re perceived by others. Don’t be afraid of pauses, they show that you have absolute confidence in what you’re saying; after delivering an important point, let it hang in the air for a few seconds – it challenges the audience to consider what you’ve said while lending the point emphasis and significance.

The Brief

Maintaining complexity of information doesn’t prove you’re clever. In Hamlet, Polonius says “Since brevity is the soul of wit…” (a joke; Polonius is rather verbose), where ‘wit’ means intelligence and wisdom. So Shakespeare was saying that if you’re smart and knowledgeable, your approach should be to communicate your complicated knowledge as simply as possible. He’d probably have enjoyed conventional Powerpoint presentations as much as I do.

Running Commentary

If you’re commenting, do so rarely, because then people will pay attention. By waiting until the right moment before jumping in, you can think about what you’re going to say, so it’s constructive and surprising. And possibly funny.

Be Silly. Once. 

I was a professional stand-up comic for over two years. Playing the fool was a lot of fun, because the audience knew that I wasn’t really a fool. Similarly, audiences love it when someone credible playfully undermines their own authority.

Something humorous or frivolous can add to a written or spoken piece by providing variety, and if executed only once, will achieve maximum effectiveness by taking the audience by surprise. Again, I recommend biding your time; if there’s an opportunity to get in a witty comment, then do it if the conditions are right. And if you do get a laugh then for goodness’ sake don’t try to repeat your success; I guarantee that any subsequent attempts will be considerably less effective, and possibly annoying.

Hit It

  • If you want to have an impact when writing or speaking, then say something important. It’s better to say little with the entirety of what you’ve said being only significant points, than to have made the same points by speaking for a longer period of time.
  • Keep it short. Albert Einstein said “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
  • When commenting and/or being humorous, then don’t use a scattergun approach of volume over quality. Be like a sniper: take your time, hit the mark once and then leave.

Read lots more speaking tips at

Written by Jon Torrens

 The One Nucleus blog is written by individuals and is not necessarily a reflection of the views held by One Nucleus.


About onenucleus

The One Nucleus blog is written by individuals and is not necessarily a reflection of the views held by One Nucleus.
This entry was posted in October 2014. Bookmark the permalink.

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