Think & Speak on your Feet
By Michael Kelly
As you may have discovered, speaking accurately, fluently and flexibly,
especially when under pressure, can be difficult. You may be prepared to
present a proposal or sell an idea, but unless you can quickly translate
your ideas into speech and language, your message will be undermined.
People who can think and speak on their feet solve problems faster.
They are perceived as more confident and creative, more persuasive and as
a person who can be trusted. Here are techniques that will help you have
speech and language at your ready disposal, for everyday use in your work
and personal life.
1. Take time and develop self-trust.
Slow down your body movements. If you have to rise from a seated position,
do so slowly. Take in a slow two-second breath before you speak. While
doing these 'take time' techniques, plan internally how you'll structure
your speaking. By slowing down your body movements, you'll help your mind
to become calmer and better able to access thoughts and ideas.
When you begin to speak, do so at a slower speed and use shorter words
until you're speaking fluently.
For self-trust in the difficult moment, silently say to yourself,
"I can do this', or something similar that is a positive
reinforcement of your ability.
2. Your Audience. There are three specific steps for using the
First, you can repeat part of the question that an audience member
might ask you. For example if someone asks you 'What are the key
components of this system?' You can say, 'John, the key component of this
Second, ask yourself if the question is appropriate. If a question is
not relevant at the time, tell the person you'll cover it later, or on a
one-on one basis after the presentation. Make sure you do this clearly or
you'll lose credibility.
Third, prior to you responding, ask other members of the audience if
they'd like to respond. By being observant you can identify people in the
audience who are the people who are keen to help you out. While another is
giving their view, you have time to formulate your thoughts.
3. Practise. Have people fire questions at you in rapid
succession and use the above strategies. The way you get proficient at
thinking on your feet is by giving yourself lots of practice attempts, so
when the real situation occurs you'll have trained your mind and mouth to
About the author: Michael Kelly teaches “Speak
& Listen for New Results”. He is a media commentator, keynote
speaker and seminar leader. Delighted blue chip corporate clients
including Icon Recruitment, Credit Suisse, First Boston and Pfizer.
Michael is the director of Kelly Speech Communication. He has a clear
insight into powerful speaking and listening techniques – to help his
clients keep on winning more business and achieving fresh results in their
careers and their lives. Visit http://www.kellyspeech.com.au
for more information.
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