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How to Learn to Think Faster on Your Feet

Read Time: 9 mins

Have you often been stuck answering a question? Do you wish you could quickly give out answers to questions? Learn how to think on your feet and answer questions quickly.

How do you think on your feet?How do you think on your feet?How do you think on your feet?
How well do you think on your feet? (Image source: Envato Elements)

Whether an unexpected question or situation catches you off guard, it’s easy to not know what to say, only to think of the correct answer later.

Thinking fast on your feet is a skill that can benefit your personal life and professional life. Keep reading to find steps on how to learn to think faster on your feet and tips to get employees to think faster on their feet.

What Does It Mean to Think Faster on Your Feet?

What does it mean to think on your feet?What does it mean to think on your feet?What does it mean to think on your feet?
What does it mean to think on your feet? (Image source: Envato Elements)

To think fast on your feet is to react to your situation quickly. Most people have a situation in their life where an unexpected situation appears that they need to react to.

When you need to think fast on your feet, it requires quick thinking. Unfortunately, not everyone has this skill. So, what can you do to improve this skill? Keep reading to find out.

10 Steps How to Learn to Think Faster on Your Feet

If you need to improve on how to think faster on your feet. You’re not the only one. Here are some tips on how to think faster on your feet:

1. Play Thinking Games

Practice makes perfect. To learn how to think fast, you need to practice. The best way to do this is to play thinking games.

For example, if you've got a team, you can quiz team members with questions. They've got to answer the questions within 60 seconds. The questions can be fun, lighthearted questions that still pertain to work.

Here's another example, pretend you own a travel agency. A question could be: what's an ideal vacation? This will help your employees learn to think fast on their feet in a fun way.

Play a thinking game.Play a thinking game.Play a thinking game.
Play a thinking game to learn how to think on your feet. (Image source: Envato Elements)

The benefit of playing learning games in a team is that you learn to listen. Listening is an important skill to have. But it takes time with learning games to get used to thinking fast on your feet. So, don’t be discouraged if at first you aren’t very good. 

2. Consider What Is Important

If you're nervous, you may focus on the wrong things, such as:

  • What will they think of me?
  • Will they like my outfit?

These aren’t the most important things to focus on.

It can help you to think quick on your feet when you are focused on the right thing. If you're concentrated on the right thing, then you're already thinking about the topic at hand. This means that it'll be easier to come up with an answer to an unexpected question.

When you focus on what’s being discussed, think about these three things:

  1. First, does anything need to be clarified? If so, what?
  2. What questions could I ask to add benefit to the discussion?
  3. Finally, do I have a perspective or insight that I can add to this discussion?

If you’re focused on these questions and not worried about how you look or how smart you look, then you'll be able to think quick on your feet.

3. Ask for More Information

It can be hard to think on your feet when you don’t have enough information. If you don’t know the answer to a question, it’s okay to ask for more information. It'll give you the chance to know the situation better and allow you to add thoughtful insight to the discussion. If you need a little more time to think about your answer, asking for more information also provides you with some time.

Ask for more information.Ask for more information.Ask for more information.
Ask for more information. (Image source: Envato Elements)

It can also provide you with the information you need to answer the question. Some ways to ask for more information is to say things such as “Tell me more about that” or “Tell me more about (the subject).

4. Ask Yourself What the Consequences Are

One approach to thinking on your feet is to think about the consequences. If you aren’t sure what to do in a situation, then thinking about the consequences can make it easier to choose what to do.

If one situation has a better consequence or can be easily reversed, then that might be a better choice than one with a bad consequence or one with a bad consequence that can be reversed.

Some bad situations can’t be reversed and impact other areas in your work. This could mean that you shouldn’t choose this option.

5. Think About What You Know

If you’re in a meeting and have to answer questions, it’s easier to answer questions about a subject and think quick on your feet if you're knowledgeable about the subject. If you can, study the subject that'll be discussed. Many people who have trouble thinking quickly on their feet don’t have a lot of knowledge of the subject being discussed.

Think about what you knowThink about what you knowThink about what you know
Think about what you know. (Image source: Envato Elements)

If you don’t have a lot of knowledge on the subject, you won’t be able to offer valuable information. Offering valuable information is the best way to impress others. If you add vague information to the discussion, it can make you seem unprepared and like you aren’t paying attention.

6. Listen for Key Words and Phrases

Sometimes people ask broad questions, and you aren’t sure where to start. Part of learning how to think faster on your feet is learning how to pick out keywords.

For example, if your boss asks you to give meeting highlights, you can either give what you may think the highlights would be or ask the boss to clarify. Your boss then says, what ideas did you find innovative that could apply to our product? The keywords in the answer are innovative and apply. Now that you know what the keywords are, you can focus only on the innovative ideas from the meeting, and you don’t have to worry about the other information. This means that your brain doesn’t need to be overloaded with information, and you can focus on that specific topic.

7. Prepare Ahead

If you want to think on your feet well, then you should always be prepared for meetings. When you’re prepared, it’s easier to answer questions quickly.

For example, if you attend a work conference, be prepared to answer questions about it. If you meet with an important client, be prepared to discuss that meeting with your boss.

Prepare aheadPrepare aheadPrepare ahead
Prepare ahead. (Image source: Envato Elements)

It's easier to think on your feet when you understand how people think and what information they want. When you learn what kind of information people want, you can easily anticipate their questions. When you can easily answer questions, people will think you're always prepared and skilled in thinking on your feet.

8. Be Relaxed

Many people feel nervous when they're the center of attention. But if you learn to relax in these situations, it’s easier to think on your feet. Here are some tips on how to calm down:

  • Take deep breaths. Taking deep breaths is extremely helpful when you’re stressed out. This can help you clear your mind and think about what’s important.
  • Say a positive Mantra. If you tell yourself “I’ve got this” or “I can do this” enough times, you’ll believe it. It’s the same concept as faking it until you make it.

Next time you're really nervous, try some of these techniques to calm down and see if you can answer the questions more easily.

9. Be Honest

When trying to think quickly on your feet, you can always prepare for everything. Maybe you were prepared but got asked an unexpected question. Perhaps you asked them to clarify the question, and you still aren’t sure of the answer.

It’s okay to be honest and tell them you need to do more research. Most people appreciate genuine honesty. People will appreciate that you’re willing to do the research required to find the answer.

10. Ask Them to Repeat the Question

Ask them to repeat the questionAsk them to repeat the questionAsk them to repeat the question
Ask them to repeat the question. (Image source: Envato Elements)

Don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat the question. Maybe you didn’t hear the question or need a couple of seconds to think of the answer; it’s okay to ask them to repeat the question politely. You need to know the question to be able to answer it correctly. Some people will even rephrase the question so that it’s easier to understand when they repeat the question.

How to Get your Employees to Think Faster on Their Feet

Are you a manager who wants their employees to learn how to think on your feet? Here are three tips:

1. Encourage

Encourage themEncourage themEncourage them
Encourage them. (Image source: Envato Elements)

Encourage employees to work with each other. If you can change who employees work with for different projects, this can encourage them to think quick on your feet.

When employees work with other people, they'll get to experience new things and hear new perspectives. This helps them to learn to think fast because they won’t fear the unknown. So, push your employees to broaden their areas of expertise and look at different solutions when problem-solving.

2. Commit to the Outcome

It can be easy to be caught up in the process of how things are always done. But this routine can cause people to not know how to think on their feet when completely new problems arise. Some problems have a lot of variations, so it’s important that employees can adapt.

Each person has their own way of thinking. This is what makes us unique as individuals. Different ways of thinking can add new perspectives. This means that you can get a project done in a different way but with the same result. As long as they get the right outcome, how they got there shouldn’t matter as much.

3. Reward Teams

Reward teamsReward teamsReward teams
Reward teams. (Image source: Envato Elements)

Reward employees for training. It can be a small bonus: a gift card to dinner and recognition in the meeting.

When employees are knowledgeable, it’s easier for them to think quickly on their feet in necessary situations. Training can also help employees be more confident in their work, encouraging better results.

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Practice Thinking Faster on Your Feet Today!

Try practicing now that you’ve learned the steps to thinking faster on your feet. It takes time, but you’ll be able to learn a new skill. If you need any digital elements for your business, try signing up for Envato Elements.

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