Six Strategies for Speaking on the Spot

Picture this.

You’re sitting in your meeting or wrapping up a company event when out of the blue someone asks you…

Would you mind saying a few words?

Maybe you don’t mind (because talking is your jam) or maybe your mind goes blank as soon as you hear the question. 

Either way, you want to speak well

Even the most confident speakers can be thrown off by an unanticipated request to speak.  

How do you do it well, when you’ve got little to no time to prepare?

Here are my six go strategies for speaking on the spot

1.) Pause. 

Take a moment to breathe, think through your response (jotting down a few quick notes if possible) and then respond. 

2.)  Stick to one point at a time.

You’ll help your listeners by not overcomplicating your response and you’ll avoid going off on a tangent.  

(If you have several points to make; see #4.) 

3.) Use simple transitions.

Find a few phrases to help you stay on track when moving from one point to the next.

For example;  “I have a few reasons”a step we can take is”,   “another action we can take is ”

4.) Finish your thought before moving on to the next one. 

Have you ever tried to answer a question too quickly and ended up getting lost by thinking about what you’re going to say next?  Finishing one thought before moving on helps you stay on track. 

5.) Be ready to say “I don’t know.”

Prepare in advance with phrases like; “I’m going to need time to think about that, let me get back to you.” “I don’t know but I’ll find out!” or “That’s a great question for __________. “  You’ll sound more confident than someone who wings it. 

6.) Practice. 

Like any skill, you’ll be better at spontaneous speaking the more you practice. Grab a colleague and have them ask you questions about your business,  organization, or a completely unexpected topic.  

Following these recomendations will help you sound clear, confident and calm the next time you’re asked to share a few words. 


How did you handle the last time you were put on the spot? 

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