How to thrive when you are put on the spot

Liam Sandford
4 min readJun 19, 2024
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Ever been put on the spot without preparation? Maybe you were asked an unfair question, maybe asked to deliver a last minute presentation with no idea what needed to be said. The sheer panic this situation creates can be enough to throw you off your stride.

A coaching client of mine recently asked, ‘How can I get better at speaking off the cuff?’ They said they are fine with preparation but are flustered without it. If you feel this too, it’s not your fault. It goes back to education. School teaches you to find the right answer, and the slightest deviation from that means you are wrong. School does not teach the grey areas, it teaches right and wrong answers and that is why you fear being put on the spot.

‘What if I say something wrong?’ ‘What if I don’t know the answer?’ — sound familiar? It’s okay to not have every answer, but you may also need some things you can do in the moment when you have that dreaded moment of being put on the spot.

Seek Comfort

The best chance you have of successfully speaking when being put on the spot is to be a comfortable speaker with preparation. Have practice using the nano speech across a few different speaking levels. To be a great speaker off the cuff you need range more than you need depth. You could be asked to speak about anything which means you…

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Liam Sandford

I help ambitious people scale their impact with quiet communication • Best Selling Author of Effortless Public Speaking • liamsandford.com/subscribe