Stop your geek speak and help me understand: Gary Simonds

Show Notes

Don't try to impress me with big words
Speak so I understand you

Episode 172 (Gary is based in North Carolina)

In this conversation with Gary Simonds we explore:

  • Recognizing the language of your profession and expertise

  • The challenge that language creates for your patients, clients, colleagues

  • Speaking to be clearly understood is not brain surgery

  • How clear understanding builds trust

  • How an analogy can help convey the message 

  • The damage when we assume that we speak the same language

  • How ego of an expert can interfere with clear communication

  • Are you aware of how many different technical languages you speak?

  • Why you need to check with your audience on their understanding

  • The power of analogy, simile and clichés

  • Why you need to be prepared for how you present the message

About our guest Gary Simonds:

Gary is a neurosurgeon who created and developed a university-level neurosurgery department and residency training program at Virginia Tech and the Carilion Clinic in Virginia.

He has written three non-fiction books and a a recently released novel, Death's Pale Flag, focusing on professional burnout and building personal resilience.

Learn more about his books at


Excerpts from this conversation with Gary Simonds:

And quite often, you know, people would be there nodding as if everybody understood you would leave the room and they go, what the heck did they just tell us?


I think it also helps, after delivering your intended message to ask them specifically, what do you understand about what I've been telling you?

What do you understand about the problem right now or the issue right now. And you can be really shocked sometimes, because you may think I've just made it as clear as can be.

And they come back with something that is in no way close to what your message was. So then you're going to have to refine it and readdress it and repeat it.

And Gary, I can see that same a similar scenario playing out in a meeting room.

Perhaps the the president of the company, or maybe the VP of engineering has come in and explained a project or a problem. And simply believe that because they explained it for themselves that everyone in the room understands.

And perhaps that's a good time to go to the room and saying,

Who here would like to tell me what your understanding is of what I just said?

And if anyone's brave enough to go and say that, then that leader might find that they didn't get across their message? I absolutely thinks that you have to have been in those scenarios, haven't you, George?

Very much. So yes. And and there are times and I admit there were times when I was reluctant to speak up? Because I didn't want to be the only person that I thought who didn't understand.

And so you're not going to say I didn't understand, please explain it to me, because you're you're the junior guy. Right? And you don't want to be the one person with and yet you look around the room and you notice that nobody else is getting it.



Your host is George Torok

George is a specialist in executive communication skills. That includes conversation and presentation. He’s fascinated by way we communicate and influence behaviors. He delivers training and coaching programs to help leaders and promising professionals deliver the intended message for greater success.

Connect with George


Your Intended Message

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