For years I have heard the phrase “think on your feet”. Initially, having heard the phrase when I was 7, the phrase confused me as I was unsure of what benefits thinking while standing up provided and questioned why I could not generate the same thoughts sitting down. Flash forward a few years, that same phrase is still very much a part my life, the only difference is that I know understand it a whole lot better and use it regularly in my professional, academic and personal life.
Contrary to my prior thinking, thinking on your feet is thinking spontaneously, on-the-go, out of the blue and is a very useful characteristic to possess for interviews, presentations and life in general.
Although many people, myself included, have a general game plan of talking points that they intend to highlight within their interview, everything doesn't always go according to plan. Depending on where the conversation leads, you may or may not have the opportunity to hit all the points you had wanted. If not, you can still make the most of your time by showing off your other strengths that the interviewer’s questions are targeting. By being able to adjust to the unknown and think on your feet, you will still be able to demonstrate why you are the perfect fit for their company.
Ever have a presentation that despite your numerous practice attempts you can’t seem to remember your script, or get too nervous and forget the words? One way to not stress about either of these issues is to think on your feet. While I am not suggesting winging a presentation, by thinking on your feet and having a general knowledge of your topic and the potential areas you want to cover, you can feel confident when presenting and be able to fill any voids that come up.
In life, thinking on your feet can present itself without you even realizing it. Whether it be filling an awkward pause in conversation at a social event, to thinking of an alternative route to a destination to avoid traffic, to taking a spontaneous day trip. Therefore, if thinking on your feet occurs in your daily life without you even noticing, how difficult can it be to implement in other facets of your life? Not too difficult.
Entering University as a business student and a Guelph local living at home, I had to think of different ways to meet people. To do this I joined different student clubs, talked to students in classes and played co-ed hockey intramurals. One of the clubs that I joined at the university in my first year happened to be DECA. Through exposing myself to unfamiliar situations in that I hadn’t ever done DECA or a case study before, I truly saw this as an opportunity to build the skill that is thinking on my feet. Three years later and clearly still a part of DECA, I have been able to reap those benefits of thinking on my feet firsthand in the three areas: interviews, presentations and life that were mentioned prior. Thus, while it may not be DECA, I suggest that everyone exposes themselves to unfamiliar situations as it is these situations that allow you to learn the most and truly reinforce the ability to think on your feet.
Director of Training, DECA U Guelph, 2018-2019