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Think Faster, Talk Smarter

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Think Faster, Talk Smarter

How to Speak Successfully When You’re Put on the Spot

Simon Element,

15 min read
8 take-aways
Text available

What's inside?

Cat got your tongue? Become a master of impromptu speech with practicable communication strategies. 

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable
  • Well Structured
  • Engaging


Picture it: Without warning, your boss asks for your opinion during a meeting; or you are called on to make an impromptu wedding toast; or you run into a potential client at a party. You want to appear intelligent and charming, but instead, you freeze. An unexpected call to communicate ad-lib can trigger a fight-or-flight response. However, you can learn to speak eloquently in spontaneous situations by mastering a few basic strategies, says communication consultant Matt Abrahams. Adopt his six-step “Think Faster, Talk Smarter” framework to unleash the spontaneous speaker within.


Engaging communicators are made, not born. 

Do you dread speaking in impromptu situations? Do you freeze when put on the spot, suffer motor aphasia when you try to articulate your ideas or overthink when you attempt to express yourself?

Some people are natural-born charmers who possess an innate gift of the gab. But with practice and the right mindset, you, too, can appear eloquent and charismatic, even when the need to speak arises unexpectedly. Release the spontaneous speaker within you by reframing your approach to ad-lib communication, breaking bad habits, and learning basic conversational and presentation-giving structures. Adopt the six-step Think Faster, Talk Smarter method of spontaneous communication – “calm, unlock, redefine, listen, structure and focus” – to overcome anxiety and become a more confident speaker.

Calm your anxiety by acknowledging your apprehension and creating a management plan.

Many people cringe at the idea of speaking off-the-cuff. A touch of anxiety can be motivating and energizing. Alas, too much anxiety can ...

About the Author

Matt Abrahams is an author and a lecturer at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. He hosts the Think Fast, Talk Smart podcast and works as a communication consultant.

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