Learning to be comfortable with spontaneous speaking is a necessity in the workplace, whether you’re being called upon to introduce someone, deliver feedback to your boss or handle the Q&A session at the end of a meeting. In a recent article for Stanford Business, communications expert Matt Abrahams provided the following tools to help you learn how to “think fast and talk smart”:

Get Out of Your Own Way

Don’t worry about doing well, giving the right answer, or having your feedback be meaningful or memorable. Instead, quiet your busy mind and really listen to what is needed in the moment. Focus on what people are saying and how they are saying it. This will allow you to get out of your own way and respond authentically.

Reframe the Situation

Try to look at spontaneous speaking as an opportunity, rather than a challenge or threat. When you feel challenged, you will likely do the bare minimum to respond because you are protecting yourself. If you see the interaction as an opportunity where you have a chance to explain and expand, you will interact in a more connected, collaborative way with your audience.

Leverage Structure

Rather than some sort of stream-of-consciousness rambling, try to respond in a structured manner so the information will be processed more effectively. Abrahams recommends two possible structures:

  • Address the issue at hand, detail your solution and explain the benefits of following through on your plan.
  • Provide your answer or feedback, discuss why it is important to the recipient, and then explain the next steps.

See the full article: “Be Better at Spontaneous Speaking.”