Can you imagine the situation; you’ve finished your update to the senior meeting and just as you start to relax, one of the big bosses asks you a question you hadn’t prepared.
The feeling of panic builds and instead of your mind looking for a logical answer, you go into ‘fight or flight’ mode. The rush of adrenaline makes your voice shake and your mind go blank.
Many of my clients struggle with having to speak on the spot, but it is possible to change your reaction and appear confident and competent.
How To Successfully Speak On The Spot
- Breathe – to relax your body and clear your mind, diaphragmatic breathing is really important. By breathing from your stomach not only does it relax you but it means your voice is projected confidently. Breathe in as your stomach goes out and breathe out as your stomach drops.
- Listen– make sure you’ve really heard the question clearly, as you start to panic you probably go into your head rather than actively listening
- Summarise or clarify the question – by summarising back the question “so you’re asking…” or clarifying “which specific impacts would you like more detail on?”. It ensures you’ve understood the question but also gives you time for your brain to clear and come up with an answer
- Pause – the temptation is to jump in and ‘wing it’, as we are often scared of silence. However, a pause actually demonstrates confidence as well as giving you more time to think.
- Slow down – again the natural reaction is to speak quickly and get your answer over as soon as possible. Slowing down communicates confidence rather than panic
- Have a structure – if you’re someone who tends to ramble, sticking to a structure such as; 3 bullet points and a conclusion can keep your answer concise and impactful
- Stop – once you’ve made your point avoid filling it out with more detail or fluff. Summarise and stop. If the person wants more detail they’ll ask
I hope these strategies help you to successfully speak on the spot, and even if that blind panic hits you can confidently move out of it.
For more tips on how to have impact and confidence at work watch my webinar – The 4 Steps To Get More Impact and Recognition Without Being Bossy or Pushy