Have you ever been put on the spot and had to answer an unexpected question?
It is a different ball game when you prepare to give a presentation or lead a meeting or discussion, at least you get the chance to prepare your speech. When you have nothing prepared, it can be a challenge, and most times we find ourselves in such a position, what do you do?
Before we dive into the 5 best ways to think on your feet, there was this professor back in school who made us give presentations weekly, and he would ask very random questions. From his method of questioning, I realized that there are no ‘right or wrong’ answers. It depends on which angle you are looking at, and how well you can defend your point of view. Keeping that in mind, here are 5 best ways for you to scale through the spotlight and shine like a star in any situation:
- Repeat the Question: This may come as a shocker, but by repeating the question you help your brain process the words. This enables the brain to pick out the ‘point’ in the question and if you do not understand the question, do not be afraid to ask politely what the person is asking.
- Focus on the ‘POINT’ of the question: getting the meaning out of the question is your duty, therefore focus on the point of the question and give it your best shot by using your brain to give your answer. Like I mentioned above, if you are not sure of the question, ASK. If it is a meeting or discussion, then add your contribution to the best of your knowledge, remember it is no competition.
- Engage Others: People speak on what interests them in a conversation, therefore ask them questions to engage them, this helps to throw more light and give more information which you can buttress while giving your own contribution.
- Pause a while: When you are put on the spot, take your time to respond. Have a thoughtful face and start with ‘that is an intriguing question’. In the process, take a deep breath, gather your thoughts together and muster your courage. These tactics are also helpful during interviews.
- The ‘Yes’ Technique: There are people who will naturally criticize what you have said in a discussion or meeting either to make a point or find out if you truly understand what is being asked. In this kind of situation, forget about being defensive and say yes, then give more information if necessary, or possible ways it can be achieved if its a question on problem-solving, this way, you move the conversation forward in any discussion, especially in a scrum or Agile environments.
In Conclusion, be yourself and believe in what you say, that way you can easily explain your point to others without fear or favor. Also, note that no man is an island and we need to be open-minded to learn from others.