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Tips that Make it Easy to Think on Your Feet

In my Telling Stories & Sharing Wisdom speaking class last week, one participant wowed us with a fully fleshed-out talk about what is wrong in America today.  He was able to put together ideas and pieces of content that included a story about being with his daughter in a New York restaurant at a table across from David Gergen, some thoughts from a PBS interview with Andrew J Bacevich, author of Limits of Power, some personal feelings about the stock market as the CEO of a construction company, and quotes from FDR and Bob Dylan.

When he finished speaking and the class participants showered him with exuberant praise, he blinked with amazement and said, “Well, it was easy, it was just the truth.”  Telling the truth is what makes thinking on your feet easy.  When you share what you know, think, feel or have experienced, it is easy to say a few words about… just about anything.

What gets people locked up with stage fright & fear of speaking is the thought that they should know more, have more to say or that they should be more than who they are.  Then the brain freezes up and thoughts can’t flow.  So, here are a few tips for thinking on your feet and saying a few words when the opportunity occurs.

1. Say what you really know or think; don’t worry about what you don’t know.

2. Tell a story about something that happened to make you think what you think.  This helps your listeners understand where your thinking comes from.

3. Share ideas you have read or heard on the media. Identify the source.

4. Add a quote (if one occurs to you) that is relevant.

5. Share any personal feelings you have so people can see and sense who you are.

6. String your stories and ideas together, one after another.  The order won’t matter; your ideas will flow together to create a unique point of view.

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