I’m sure you all remember Corporal Jones from Dad’s Army shouting “Don’t panic” and then running round in circles doing an excellent impersonation of a headless chicken.

Sometimes you can find yourself in a situation where you are unexpectedly put on the spot and have to think on your feet to come up with some answers.  It could be an awkward question in a Q&A after a presentation, something that a client asks that you haven’t considered before or even a press interview.  

Don’t panic.  Here are some quick and easy ways of coping with such a situation:

•    Relax.  Take a couple of slow, deep breaths.  Keep your voice calm and controlled.  Think clearly.  Confident body language and a relaxed expression will reinforce the belief that you are in control of the situation.

•    Listen.  Focus on your questioner and make sure you listen carefully to fully understand what they are asking.  Consider their body language.  Is this a straightforward question or a test or trap?  Is there an ulterior motive behind it?

•    Repeat the question.  You will hear politicians doing this time and again in interviews and there is no reason why you shouldn’t copy them.  It gives you vital thinking time and lets you come up with a reply.

•    Ask a clarifying question.  The question may be too broad to be easily answered or you might want to highlight some particular aspect.  It also shows you are listening and understand the concerns of the questioner.

•    Don’t be afraid to pause.  Give yourself thinking time.  Silence can communicate that you are in charge of the situation.  It also gives you time to collect your thoughts and formulate the best answer you can.

•    Give a summary and stop.  Make your answer in a couple of sharp statements then summarise and stop talking.  Don’t be tempted to over-analyse or explain as you may end up simply rambling, ruining the good impression you were making.  Better to keep it short and sweet.  David Cameron, for instance, has a habit of answering a question then abruptly walking away from the questioner indicating that he has clearly answered the query and that the conversation is concluded.

For more tips on growing your business call me today on 01452 534860 and we’ll have an informal chat.