Think Fast, Talk Smart: Communication Techniques

Think Fast, Talk Smart: Communication Techniques

Spontaneous Speaking is More Stressful

  • Workshop created to help students respond to cold calls
  • Cold calls are when a professor asks a question and students must respond on the spot
  • Cold calls cause panic and silence
  • Workshop created to address this issue
  • Spontaneous speaking is more prevalent than planned speaking

Techniques to Improve Spontaneous Speaking

  • Use the "Acknowledge-Reframe-Answer" technique
  • Acknowledge the question and show understanding
  • Reframe the question to buy time and clarify
  • Answer the question confidently and concisely

The Power of Pausing

  • Pausing can be an effective tool in communication
  • Pausing allows you to gather your thoughts and formulate a response
  • Pausing can also create anticipation and engagement from the audience
  • Pausing helps to create a more impactful and coherent message

Nonverbal Communication

  • Nonverbal cues are important in communication
  • Use gestures and facial expressions to enhance your message
  • Maintain eye contact to establish connection and build trust
  • Body language should be confident and open

Practice Makes Perfect

  • Practice spontaneous speaking in low-stake situations
  • Gradually increase the difficulty and pressure of the situations
  • Practice helps to build confidence and improve communication skills
  • Seek feedback and learn from each experience

Be Authentic and Genuine

  • Be yourself when speaking spontaneously
  • Don't try to be someone you're not
  • Show vulnerability and share personal stories
  • Being authentic builds trust and credibility


  • Spontaneous speaking is more stressful than planned speaking
  • Use the "Acknowledge-Reframe-Answer" technique to respond to cold calls
  • Use pausing effectively in communication
  • Nonverbal cues are important for conveying your message
  • Practice and seek feedback to improve your skills
  • Be authentic and genuine when speaking


  • 85% of people feel nervous when speaking in public.
  • It is important to manage anxiety when communicating.
  • Making the audience comfortable is the communicator's responsibility.
  • Techniques for managing anxiety include acknowledging and greeting it, reframing the speaking situation as a conversation, and becoming present-oriented.

GROUND RULES (00:15:22)

  • Four steps are critical to effective communication.
  • Ground rules:
    • Be open to learning.
    • Participate and engage.
    • Create a safe and respectful environment.
    • Keep an open mind.

Getting out of our own way [03:22]

  • We often hinder our own spontaneous speaking by trying to be perfect and give the right answer.
  • We need to get ourselves out of the way and let go of perfectionism.
  • One way to practice getting out of our own way is to play a game called "Shout the Wrong Name."

Seeing the situation as an opportunity [10:37]

  • Spontaneous speaking situations should be seen as opportunities rather than challenges or threats.
  • By reframing the situation as an opportunity, we can be more open and authentic in our responses.
  • A game called "Exchange Imaginary Gifts" can help us practice seeing spontaneous speaking situations as opportunities.

Slowing down and listening [17:59]

  • To be an effective communicator, we need to slow down and listen to understand the demands of the situation.
  • We should be in service of our audience and respond to their needs.
  • A game called "Spell What You Say" can help us practice focusing, listening, and responding.

Telling a story [26:43]

  • The fourth part of the process is being able to tell a story.
  • When telling a story, it is important to have a clear structure and engage the audience.
  • We can use the storytelling technique of "show, don't tell" to make our stories more vivid and engaging.

TELL A STORY (00:38:50)

  • Responding in a structured way is key to successful communication.
  • Structure increases processing fluency, making information more effectively and efficiently processed.
  • Using structure helps with memory recall, just like chunking phone numbers into a structure.
  • Introduces two useful structures: problem, solution, benefit and what? so what? now what?

USEFUL STRUCTURE #1 (00:40:14)

  • Problem, solution, benefit structure is persuasive and effective.
  • Helps the speaker remember and the audience understand the message.
  • Provides structure to keep the audience engaged and on track.
  • Can be reframed as an opportunity instead of a problem.


  • Another useful structure is the what? so what? now what? structure.

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