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Ben Davern

Ben Davern

25th Aug 2023

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Think on Your Feet: 7 Tips to Master the Art of Quick Thinking

To think on your feet refers to the ability to quickly and effectively respond to unexpected situations or challenges. It involves making decisions, solving problems, or providing thoughtful and adaptive responses in real-time, often without much preparation. It’s a vital skill that requires cognitive agility, mental flexibility, and the capacity to analyze situations swiftly – and then act.

In today’s fast-paced professional landscape, the ability to think on your feet is an invaluable asset that can set you apart from the competition. Whether you’re navigating high-pressure situations, dealing with challenging stakeholders, or presenting to senior management and the Board, your ability to think on your feet will significantly impact your success.

In this article, we’ll explore seven tips to sharpen your ability to think quickly, communicate effectively and influence impactfully:

1. Clever Thinking for Strategic Influence

Clever thinking forms the foundation of strategic influence. It involves analysing complex situations from various angles, identifying opportunities, and crafting innovative solutions. Mastering this skill empowers you to present ideas compellingly and persuasively. Clever thinkers excel in navigating complexity, captivating their audience and earning the trust of senior management.

2. The Power of Rapid Response

In today’s fast-paced world, the ability to respond quickly is vital. Quick thinking enables you to tackle unexpected situations with confidence and poise. While speed is crucial, it’s equally important to maintain clarity and accuracy in your responses. Quick thinkers demonstrate adaptability and problem-solving abilities, making them invaluable assets in dynamic and rapidly changing environments.

3. Captivating Presentation Skills

Effective presentation skills are essential for gaining recognition and support. Crafting a compelling narrative, using visuals effectively and engaging your audience are key components of impactful communication. Your goal is not only to convey ideas clearly but also to leave a lasting impression that lingers in the minds of your audience long after the presentation ends.

4. Getting Straight to the Point

Time is a precious commodity, especially when engaging senior management and Board members. Professionals who can get to the heart of the matter quickly and concisely stand out. Learning to communicate succinctly while delivering a powerful message ensures you capture decision-makers’ attention and leave a memorable impact.

5. Crafting Memorable Messages

Memorability is a critical aspect of influence. Crafting messages that resonate and stick with your audience sets you apart. Using storytelling techniques, powerful anecdotes and persuasive language ensures your ideas are not easily forgotten. Memorable messages leave a lasting imprint on your audience’s minds, enhancing your persuasive abilities.

6. Navigating Difficult Situations

Difficult situations are a part of professional life, especially when dealing with senior management. Your ability to handle challenges with finesse and diplomacy is essential. Clever thinking and persuasive communication come into play as you strategize how to address concerns, propose solutions, and maintain composure under pressure. Navigating these situations effectively ensures your continued influence and credibility.

7. Managing Up and Beyond

Managing up requires a unique skill set, particularly when presenting to senior management and the Board. Tailoring your communication to their expectations, priorities, and decision-making processes is crucial. Effective communication, clever thinking, and persuasive presentation skills are instrumental in gaining their trust and support.


Thinking on your feet is a valuable skill in various professional and personal scenarios. It is often associated with individuals who excel in roles that involve spontaneity, public speaking, negotiation, or leadership. The ability to think on your feet is not only about reacting quickly but also about making sound judgments and decisions in the moment. This skill can be developed through experience, practice, and the cultivation of critical thinking and problem-solving abilities.


Master the Art of Impactful Communication with IMI’s Think on Your Feet® programme, launching 14 February 2024: https://www.imi.ie/product/think-on-your-feet/

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