A complete joke


Communication coach Jon Torrens explains how to learn presentation writing from joke writing.

Jon writes:

Did you read about that pyschic dwarf who escaped from prison?

The headline read ‘Small Medium at Large’.

It may have raised nothing more from you than a smile, but I really like that joke, because:

  1. It’s short.
  2. It’s a satisfying sequence.
  3. Everyone I’ve told it to likes it.

Those three qualities are precisely what you need for your presentations, pitches and any other occasion where you’re trying to persuade. Let me clarify them:

1.) It should be as short as it can be. That joke’s only eighteen words in total, which for a joke is perfect . It may be impossible to shorten your pitch for investment below 2,000, but you should try to reduce it down to its bare essentials (see my post ‘Don’t Waste My Time!’).

Get it down to three killer points and you’ve nailed it. State them at the beginning and then back them up. Any material that doesn’t reinforce those killer points effectively is irrelevant and should be dropped, much like a staff member who isn’t pulling their weight.

2.) Craft something with some love. People appreciate it when you’ve put your soul into something. Show that you’ve considered the form of your presentation’s structure. I’m not talking about aesthetics – spoken words need a framework, and a well-crafted story will be a beautiful thing for your audience to hear.

3.) It’s proven. Test it out; the more people who see it and give feedback, the better it’ll become. There’s little that reassures me more than a piece that I know other people have already enjoyed. It feels fantastic approaching each high point, and even if they don’t enjoy it as much as I’d hoped, I know that the material has worth.

Think of your favourite joke, it may contain of the essence of the delivery style that suits you best. Long, short or simply filthy, it’s probably a hint of your speaking persona. But that’s another story…


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By reducing stress and fear, I make giving talks enjoyable.

Using my experience as an introvert, stand-up comic and video games designer, I deliver short, fun but effective training to create successful, confident speakers. I work with both companies and individuals.

I currently deliver training online and in person.

Jon Torrens