How to think on your feet when under pressure

Do you ever find yourself needing to articulate your ideas rapidly on-the-spot? Do you ever find your mind blanking out under pressure?

Thinking is often taken for granted as a skill, but like any skill there are easier and ways of doing it that can lead to articulating your ideas effectively – even when put under pressure.

Three tips for thinking on your feet under pressure are:

  1. Respond with a phrase to allow thinking time – this could be as simple as saying “thats a very interesting question” which gives you some breathing space before you have to respond to the question.
  2. Breathe – this sounds simple but it is grounded in science. Feeding oxygen to your brain allows it to function effectively to use your executive brain, rather than operating purely on emotion, which causes the fight, or flight response.  So by taking a deep breath before you respond, will help you think rather than panic.
  3. Have a structure for crafting your responses – by developing a framework for how to respond to questions in a public forum, you can learn how to craft your answer around the framework.  One example is based on time, where you could structure a response around the three points before, during and after.   Let’s say you are asked, what are your views on the new company strategy?   You could answer by saying before the CEO was appointed there was a lack of vision in the company and people seemed disengaged, now that she has joined us its given the senior leadership team an opportunity to shape the future of the business, and as a result people have bought into the strategy and feel more engaged by it.  Therefore its got a better chance to being achieved in the future

Learn even more ways to think on your feet effectively

Find out about our 1 day programme for organisations.

In this hands-on workshop you can learn how to gather and articulate your thoughts concisely, clearly and convincingly.

A wide range of techniques will be explored and rehearsed to help you make the most of your mind – taking less and less time with practice – until you can truly, think on-the-spot. 

Ideal for individuals who want to articulate their ideas either in in a one to one situation or in an auditorium of 300 people.


Sue was a very engaging and knowledgeable trainer, it was a participative event and I would recommend it to others. Brendan Burns, NSPCC, Belfast

All of our programmes can be delivered either face to face, via 1 – 1 coaching, or as a virtual programme in modules using the latest video technology.  Contact Sue Stockdale now to find out more. Tel 07780 670664 or

We also run programmes on a number of other leadership topics including:



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