top of page

Think Faster, Talk Smarter: Elevating Our Communication Game at Superstruct

Updated: Jun 6

Years ago I was a professional speaker. And then something happened 11 years ago and I started to experience anxiety with public speaking. This book is for those who need a refresher, or for those who want to conquer their ability to get on track.

What happens to me with speaking?

I get all jumbled. The confidence I had in my youth is long gone. I often find myself overly expressive and struggling to stay on track. My hands do as much talking as my voice, leading me through unpredictable paths in my attempts to connect with the audience.

Over the last year, I have decided I want to do better. I recognize the need to refine our communication skills, aiming for a more streamlined and effective way to convey our thoughts.

"Think Faster, Talk Smarter" by Matt Abrahams caught my eye at a friend's recommendation. After diving into its story, I can confidently say it's transformed my approach to communication.

We are hosting our first Book Club on June 27th in person. Come join us!

Matt Abrahams, a Stanford lecturer and communication expert, has crafted a roadmap that's nothing short of essential for professionals like myself. His book is a treasure trove of actionable strategies aimed at mastering the art of spontaneous communication. As Charles Duhigg, the bestselling author, puts it, this book is perfect for "anyone who talks."

Ha. No kidding!

One of the book's core messages resonates with me: Most of our communication is spontaneous. We often focus on preparing for planned communications, such as presentations or pitches, but the unexpected moments truly test our ability to convey ideas effectively. Abrahams's insight into embracing these spontaneous situations has been a game-changer for me.

Abrahams offers science-based strategies for managing the anxiety that can accompany these moments. His approach is not about eliminating nervousness but harnessing it to enhance communication. "Anxiety," he writes, "can be a powerful tool if managed correctly." This perspective was enlightening, helping me to see my own nervous energy as a resource rather than a hindrance.

If you want to learn more, go to the Think Fast, Talk Smart Podcast.

Viewing Communication as a Strategic Game

The idea of treating communication as a game may seem unconventional, but it's a perspective shift that can unlock immense potential. In this game, the players are you and your audience, the objectives are connection and persuasion, and the strategies involve managing anxiety, crafting compelling content, and adapting to the unpredictable nature of spontaneous speaking.

The Rules of the Game

  1. Understand Your Objective: Just as in any game, knowing your goal is crucial. In communication, the goal often involves persuading your audience, sharing information effectively, or building relationships.

  2. Know Your Players: Analyzing your audience – their interests, biases, and levels of understanding – allows you to tailor your message effectively.

  3. Play to Your Strengths: Use your unique skills and personality traits to your advantage in communication. Whether it's humor, empathy, or storytelling, leveraging your strengths makes your message more impactful.

Strategic Tactics for Winning the Game

  1. Preparing Your Mindset

    1. Embrace the Game: See each communication opportunity as a challenge to be met with enthusiasm rather than fear.

    2. Visualize Success: Athletes visualize their victories; similarly, envisioning a successful communication outcome can boost your confidence and performance.

  2. Managing Anxiety

    1. Reframe Nervous Energy: Anxiety can be a powerful tool. Learn to channel nervous energy into focus and dynamism in your delivery.

    2. Breathing Techniques: Just as steady breathing can calm nerves in sports, use breathing exercises to center yourself before and during communication challenges.

  3. Crafting Your Message

    1. Keep It Simple: The best players make the game look easy. Simplify your message to make it easily understandable and memorable.

    2. Use Stories: People are naturally drawn to stories. Incorporate anecdotes and examples to make your points come alive.

  4. Engaging Your Audience

    1. Interactive Techniques: Use questions, polls, or interactive elements to engage your audience actively, turning passive listeners into participants.

    2. Read the Room: Adapt your strategy based on audience feedback and engagement levels, just like adjusting your play based on the opponent's moves.

  5. Practicing and Improvising

    1. Regular Practice: Just as athletes train off the field, practice your communication skills in low-stakes environments to build confidence.

    2. Embrace Improvisation: Sometimes, the game doesn't go as planned. Being open to improvisation allows you to adapt and thrive even in unexpected situations.

Essential Tools

Specific Strategies from Think Faster, Talk Smarter

Abrahams also delves into the importance of adapting to the room's mood, making content concise, relevant, and compelling. His advice on making an impact with your words, whether responding to a question or engaging in small talk, has been particularly valuable in our work. The strategies he outlines for navigating Q&A sessions, acing job interviews, and even fixing faux pas are not only practical but grounded in real-world experiences.

Drawing from stories of his clients and students, Abrahams brings his strategies to life with relatable examples. This narrative approach not only makes the book engaging but also demonstrates the tangible impact of his advice. For instance, the section on providing effective feedback has revolutionized the way I approach conversations with my team and the founders we support. By focusing on making my content memorable and persuasive, I've seen a noticeable improvement in how my feedback is received and acted upon.

Moreover, Abrahams's best practices for handling impromptu speaking tasks have been invaluable. In the fast-paced world this macro-economic environment and the gold age of credit, persuading others and articulating thoughts on the fly can make or break opportunities. The book has equipped us with the skills to navigate these situations with grace and confidence.

Communication Techniques

Key Takeaways

Here are a few key takeaways from "Think Faster, Talk Smarter" by Matt Abrahams that are worth remembering:

  1. Embrace Spontaneous Communication: Most professional and personal communication happens unexpectedly. Embracing these moments rather than fearing them is crucial for success.

  2. Manage Anxiety as a Resource: Anxiety doesn't have to be a barrier to effective communication. Use nervous energy to your advantage by learning to manage it properly, turning it into a tool that enhances your speaking.

  3. Adapt to the Room: Being sensitive to the mood and dynamics of your audience can help you tailor your message for maximum impact. This adaptability is key in spontaneous speaking situations.

  4. Make Your Content Compelling: Whether it's a Q&A session, a job interview, or casual small talk, focusing on making your communication concise, relevant, and memorable is essential.

  5. Navigate Impromptu Tasks with Confidence: From handling unexpected questions to fixing communication faux pas, having strategies in place for spontaneous speaking tasks allows you to handle them with grace.

  6. Leverage Stories and Examples: Real-world stories and examples not only make your communication more engaging but also help illustrate your points more effectively, making your message stick.

  7. Practice and Prepare: While the focus is on spontaneous communication, preparation and practice are still key. Familiarizing yourself with potential topics and practicing impromptu speaking can significantly improve your spontaneity skills.

Remember, the goal isn't to eliminate spontaneity or unpredictability in communication but to navigate it effectively. Matt Abrahams's book is a valuable guide for anyone looking to improve their ability to think quickly and speak smartly in any situation.

"Think Faster, Talk Smarter" is more than just a book—it's a vital companion for anyone looking to excel in the art of spontaneous communication. Matt Abrahams has provided a comprehensive guide that I've found indispensable in both my professional and personal life. His blend of science-based strategies, practical advice, and engaging storytelling makes for a compelling read that I would recommend to anyone in the business world and beyond. 

Whether you're facing a daunting interview, leading a critical meeting, or simply looking to improve your day-to-day interactions, this book offers the tools to navigate the unpredictable landscape of communication with ease and confidence.

24 views0 comments


bottom of page