Speaking Effectively On-the-Spot: 7 Steps to Think Quick on Your Feet

If you’re looking to further your career, it’s essential that you feel confident expressing your thoughts and opinions. Doing so not only creates a good impression but also communicates your value and worth with conviction. The ability to prepare is essential for successful business people. Today, we are going to discuss “how to think and speak well on the spot

When you have the opportunity to preplan your response, expressing yourself clearly becomes a lot simpler. Being unprepared, having to answer tough questions, and being asked to speak on topics you’re not comfortable with can all be incredibly daunting.

How To Think And Speak Well On The Spot

How To Think And Speak Well On The Spot

When it comes to thinking and speaking on the spot, many people get tongue-tied or lost for words. If you’re someone who tends to freeze up in spontaneous situations, don’t worry – it’s a perfectly normal reaction. There are ways to improve your on-the-spot thinking and speaking.

Thinking on your feet is a key workplace skill to master. It demonstrates how confident, credible, and poised you are while also ensuring that your thoughts are perceived and acted upon.

Whether you’re answering Q&A following a presentation, responding to your employer in a meeting, or interviewing with the media, you don’t have to “sweat it” when you’re in the hot seat.

Not to worry, by following a few simple steps, you can train your brain to think more quickly and fluently in spontaneous situations. With a bit of practice, you’ll be able to speak confidently and without hesitation – even when you’re put on the spot! Here’s what you need to do:

Most of us have been in a situation where we’ve been put on the spot and asked to speak without any preparation. Whether it’s answering Q&A after a presentation, responding to your boss in a meeting, or interviewing with the press, how you think and speak on the spot can be crucial.

The good news is that there are some things you can do to make sure you’re prepared for those situations. Here are seven steps for successful speaking on the spot:

Take A Deep Breath And Count To Three Before You Speak

How to speak instantly on the spot

Relax yourself, take a deep breathe before you speak anything.

Silence is golden. First things first: take a deep breath and count to three before you speak. This gives you time to collect your thoughts and get centered. You don’t want to blurt out the first thing that comes to mind – this is how gaffes happen! Speaking slowly also conveys confidence and authority.

To give yourself silent affirmation, think “I can do this,” “I’m confident and in control,” or “I’m the expert on this subject.” Remember that your audience only sees how you look and act on the outside–they never see how you feel on the inside. So, take a few deep breaths and channel your inner power pose to give off the appearance of confidence before you start talking.

Start With A Key-phrase

How to think and speak on the spot.

Buy yourself some time to think by starting your speech with an interesting keyphrase.

When you’re put on the spot, it can be helpful to have a “key phrase” in mind. That will help you get started with your speech. This could be something as simple as “Let me just say…” or “The most important thing to remember is…” By starting with a key phrase, you buy yourself some time to think about what you want to say next. Plus, it gives your response a sense of structure and coherence.

Repeat The Question In Your Head

How to think on the spot

Understand the topic clearly by thinking it of again in your mind and then start speaking.

Repeat the question in your head or out loud to buy yourself some time to think of a response.
try to restate the question in a different way to make sure you understand it. This also allows you to buy some time while you think of your answer.

It can be helpful, especially during large meetings or public events, to repeat the question out loud for all to hear. By doing so, you grant the asker a chance to either better understand or more precisely articulate their query while also giving yourself additional time to think about and construct a response. Additionally, repeating the question gives you an opportunity to assert control over it if necessary by rephrasing or depoliticizing it.

Organize Your Thoughts By Listing The Main Points You Want To Make

Thinking and speaking on the spot

Think about the topic and keep the main highlights in your mind on which you are going to speak.

Keep your answer relevant and concise. If you’re not sure how long to speak, aim for 30-60 seconds. It’s better to err on the side of brevity than ramble on unnecessarily. Keep it brief and focus on one main point.

In today’s sound bite society, shorter is almost always better when speaking off-the-cuff. Get straight to the heart of the matter by making one clear point – and then stop talking! If necessary, use transitional phrases like “What I mean by that is…” or “The bottom line is…” to segue into your point more smoothly. Sixth, make sure to keep your answer concise and to the point

Know Your Audience

How to think and speak well on the spot

Before you start speaking, analyse your audience so that you can connect to them.

Before you open your mouth, it’s important to know who you’re speaking to. This will help you gauge how formal or informal your language should be, what level of detail to go into, and what topics are likely to be of interest.

For example, if you’re giving a presentation to a group of fellow experts in your field, you can assume a higher level of knowledge and use more technical jargon. On the other hand, if you’re speaking to a group of laypeople, it’s important to keep your language simple and concise.

Additionally, try to anticipate what questions your audience might have, and be prepared to address them.

Do Your Homework.

How to think and speak well on spot

Make sure you spend enough time to research and prepare before your event dates.

The best way to be prepared for impromptu speaking is, well…to prepare! When you know ahead of time that there’s a chance you might be put on the spot, do some research on the topic beforehand so you can speak knowledgeably about it.

For example, if you’re going into a meeting where there will be Q&A afterward, take some time to review key points from the presentation so you can answer any questions that come up easily and confidently. If you’re being interviewed by the press, find out who will be interviewing you and what angle they tend to take in their stories so you can be prepared with talking points accordingly.


Use Analogies & Stories.

If dry facts and figures aren’t your strong suit, try using analogies or stories instead to make your point more relatable. An effective analogy can help paint a picture in people’s minds and make complex concepts more digestible. Just be sure whatever story or example you use is appropriate for the audience and situation.

For instance, if you’re trying to explain how a new software program works, you might say something like, “It’s a lot like ordering a pizza online. You just enter in what you want and hit ‘submit.’ Then, voila – it appears!”

Take Risks.

Thinking and speaking well on the spot

Be confident and jump in whenever you see any opportunities, it will boost your confidence.

The best way to become more comfortable with spontaneous speaking is simply…to do it! Next time someone asks for your opinion in a meeting, or there’s an open forum at an event, raise your hand and jump in. The worst-case scenario is that your idea isn’t well received – but even then, you’ll likely get valuable feedback that can help improve how you communicate next time around.

And who knows? You might just surprise yourself with how eloquently you can speak off-the-cuff when the situation calls for it.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to speak confidently and fluently when it matters most! Whether you’re giving a presentation, being interviewed by the press, or simply answering a question in a meeting, these seven steps will help you think on your feet and deliver an effective, persuasive message.

Watch & Learn From Others.

Learn from experts

Pay attention to people who are better than you, learn from them and keep implementing new things.

Finally, one of the best ways to get better at anything is to study those who are already good at it. Pay attention to how successful public figures deliver impromptu speeches or handle themselves under fire during interviews, and take note of any techniques they use that resonate with you.

You can also practice ‘thinking out loud ‘ by debriefing with a friend or colleague after meetings where there was open discussion – how did they express themselves? What could you have done differently? Over time, these small steps will help build up your confidence and skills so that thinking on your feet becomes second nature.

As anyone in a professional setting knows, thinking on your feet is an essential skill. Not only does it reveal how confident and credible you are, but it also ensures your ideas are heard. Whether you’re answering Q&A after a presentation or meeting with the press, you don’t have to ‘sweat it’ when you’re in the hot seat. Try these seven steps for successful speaking on the spot.

Bonus Steps

1. Listen carefully to the question or request. This will help you understand what’s being asked of you and give you time to think about your response.

2. Stay calm and positive. No one wants to listen to someone who’s visibly nervous or anxious. Stay cool and collected to project strength and confidence.

3. Anticipate tough questions. If you know that certain questions are likely to come up, prepare potential answers in advance. This will help keep you from being caught off guard.

4. Practice, practice, practice! The more you practice thinking about the situation, the easier it will become for you to face it.


These tactics can help you think on your feet and make sure your thoughts are heard in any situation.

So the next time you’re in a meeting, presentation, or interview, remember to stay calm and confident, listen carefully, and practice in advance. With a little preparation, you’ll be able to think and speak fluently no matter what’s thrown your way.

Keep your body loose and your breathing regular. Pay attention to the questioner and listen carefully. If necessary, repeat their words or ask them a question to narrow the scope of the discussion. To come across as a confident expert who knows how to think and speak on the spot, use the reflective pause to clear your thoughts.

When you’re ready to answer, stick to three key points with short supporting evidence for each. Finally, practice how you’ll deliver your answer out loud so that you sound natural when the time comes. By following these tips, you’ll be able to think and speak confidently in any situation!

Moreover, one effective way to learn public speaking is to enroll in our most advanced public speaking course. This course is designed to help you build confidence and master the art of public speaking.

With the help of this online public speaking course, you’ll be ready to take on any speaking challenge. So don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. With a little help and guidance, you can learn to speak like a pro.

Online Public Speaking Course


We hope that this blog post would have helped you in understanding How to think and speak well on the spot. Enrol in our online public speaking course to get started putting these concepts into practice. With guidance from a professional instructor and plenty of opportunities to put what you’ve learned into action, you’ll be an expert at delivering impromptu speeches in no time.

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About Author

Jeremiah O`Brian
Master Teacher  | USC School of Dramatic Arts

Jeremiah O’Brian is a faculty member at the USC School of Dramatic Arts. His exceptionally diverse background – from gritty nuts-and-bolts firefighting to film and theatre credits and accolades – is bolstered by his several graduate degrees.

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