Nils Vesk

Nils Vesk on communicating ideas, creating safe environments and treading softly on dreams (#6)

Have you ever had a great idea but you didn’t know how to share it? 

Maybe you tried but it was shut down quickly, ignored or trampled on. This can be hard and hurt our ego. 

In this episode we talk to Nils Vesk about how to communicate our ideas effectively, giving feedback on ideas and how to create a safe environment to generate ideas. 

Listen on Apple, Google, Spotify or Simplecast.

Nils is an international authority on innovation and the inventor of the Innovation Archetype Process.  He helps companies like Nestle, Pfizer and HP to get on the front foot by equipping them to rapidly re-invent the products, processes and services that create raving fans and insatiable customer desire

He is a certified Speaking Professional a designation held by fewer than 10% of speakers globally and the author of books like Ideas with Legs: how to create brilliant ideas and bring them to life , Innovation Archetypes: Principles for World Class Innovation 

Nils runs an innovation agency that does training, consulting and speaking and has helped fortune 500 companies to give legs to their employees’ good ideas. 

You can connect with Nils via LinkedIn,  his website (  or email (

Show Notes

2:14 – why ideas are important.
3:19 – ideas can die when not communicated well.
4:32 – impact of cognitive load on communication.
5:46 – less is often better.
7:05 – know your audience’s world.
7:55 – using inclusive language.
9:36 – meeting the audience where they are at.
9:57 – Port method pitch formula.
12:32 – death by detail.
13:06 – Matt Church pitch technique.
15:02 – importance of emotion to communication.
17:24 – humour for communication and creativity.
20:47 – treading softly on someone’s ideas.
22:38 – open mouth theory.
27:06 – the environment matters.
29:17 – is it ever too early to share an idea?
35:10 – telling someone their idea won’t work without breaking their spirit.
41:11 – creating a safe space to generate ideas.
47:42 – this facilitation technique works cross-culturally.
49:58 – generating ideas with a jaded audience.
52:53 – coming down to their level.
53:46 – sell to the kids not the parents.
55:23 – dealing with mico-managers
01:00:39 – acceptance commitment therapy.
01:04:29 – thanks.


Inclusive Language 

Cognitive Load  

Jony Ive, Chief Design Officer at Apple 

A Pitch Formula by Michael Port: The Big Idea, The Promise, Know Your World, Consequences & Benefits 

RASCI Model 

Mat Church: Context, Concept, Content 

The Hero’s Journey 

Barry Kudrowitz: How humor can fuel innovation | Barry Kudrowitz | TEDxUMN 

Negativity Bias 

Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven, W.B. Yates 

Brain Wave States 

Open Mouth Theory 

Reverse Brainstorming  

Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) 

The Queens Gambit on Netflix 


Ideas with Legs – how to create brilliant ideas and bring them to life, by Nils Vesk 

Innovation archetypes: Principles for world class innovation, by Nils Vesk 

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely 

The Happiness Trap By Dr Russ Harris  

Key Quotes

“The world is driven by great ideas” 

“Too many people have their ideas squashed” 

“Any idea is a good idea in the beginning” 

“Ideas do not make it to the real world due to a bad presentation” 

“Simplicity is one of the most difficult things you can achieve” 

“I must apologise for the length of this letter if I had more time I would have written you a shorter letter” – Mark Twain

“Know your audience’s world” 

“We make emotional decisions even when we are doing the rational types of things” 

“Using stories is one of the easiest ways to evoke emotions…and it creates rapport” 

“humour…for those that learned improvisation techniques had 30% improved quality of ideas” 

“the human brain is hardwired to have a negativity bias” 

“cognitive flexibility is one of the keys to innovation and humour helps with this” 

“the type of environment in which you share your idea can impact how it is received” 

“there is a lot of sacred power in people sitting in a circle” 

“there is a lot of facilitation techniques that can assist with the receptivity of an idea” 

“even though an idea could be worth millions, nothing is going to happen unless that idea can be executed” 

“am I sharing the idea to have moral support, potential advice on executing or to test the validity of it?” 

“ideas get killed because people do not know how to assess them” 

“It’s through constraints that we come up with our best ideas” 

“Pigging Backing an idea…it’s not about detracting, it’s about building on” 

“one way to ruin a workshop is to say: does anyone have any questions…the loud mouth people will dominate” 

“So here’s our challenge…grab a post it note and write down a couple of ideas…music playing”  

“you will not be able to get them to do this, your workshop will be a failure…she could not believe people were talking!!!” 

“you are getting down beneath their eye height…there are ways to make the space feel safe.” 

“Reverse Brainstorming Technique…write down all of the ways that this project could be a disaster…the ideas will flow…” 

“As Westerners we like to get rid of things that are not working…..we need to make room for them.” 

“Rather than elimination it’s expansion”. 

About the author

Divan and Mark are co-hosts of the Candour Communication Podcast where we discuss interpersonal communication and all the human stuff that gets in the way.