Do you usually say the first thing that comes into your mind? Or are you the type who keeps your thoughts to yourself before saying them out loud?
Although having one-to-one conversations comes naturally for most, there will always be times when sudden encounters in the hallways wouldn’t always be what you’d expect. During these times, you’ll be forced to react under pressure, such as bumping into a prof you’ve been dreading to meet or being asked to do a group presentation in less than ten minutes. Sometimes, even class recitations or on-the-spot-brainstorming sessions can force you to think this way. And if you’re either caught off-guard or you’re simply not used to processing your thoughts into words on the spot, you might end up doing more harm than good.
Fortunately, there is a way to move around it! And this is where the art of thinking on your feet comes in handy. Are you good at it?
Thinking on your feet is a valuable skill that not many people have mastered. It balances the way we think and react to unexpected situations, especially whenever we’re under pressure. It also allows you to be more persuasive and expressive of your ideas.
Don’t we need that everyday?
So if you were suddenly asked to prepare for a presentation in ten minutes or less, how would you do it?
Fortunately, there are ways for you to get used to thinking on your feet, and following these tips will hopefully help you master the skill:
Audiences nowadays appreciate getting straight to the point. They appreciate feedback that’s more straightforward than going around circles just to raise a point. You wouldn’t want your audience to have some sort of information overload, right? Best to get straight to the point while getting your message across.
Whenever we are under pressure, our initial response is to speed up our reactions as our thoughts frantically try adjusting to the sudden turnabout. When this happens, take deep breaths and relax. It’s okay to pause and take time to respond.
Organize your thoughts.
Construct your thoughts in a way that your audience can see how coherent your thoughts are before giving a response. Knowing how to answer well by keeping it clear and coherent not only makes it easier to digest, but it also leaves a good impression on your audience.
Three points are enough.
Consider your audience’s attention span. Again, you wouldn’t want to bore your audience with a lot of information, right? Listing down just one point won’t be enough and fifteen items are too much. Simply reduce them to three so it would be easier for you and your audience to remember them.
People appreciate it more when you’re more honest and direct about your ideas. While at it, guide your audience by redirecting them to a more logical perspective. Don’t know the answer? Acknowledge their question but promise to get back to them when you know the answer. It’s okay not to know everything!
Thinking on your feet takes a lot of practice. After all, it’s hard to adjust whenever you’re under pressure. Just remember: take time to gather your thoughts! Once you’ve mastered it, you’ll not only become a better communicator, but you’ll also be surprised at how much you learn more about yourself in the process!