Thinking On Your Feet admin March 29, 2021

Thinking On Your Feet

3 Top Tips For Thinking Quickly When The Pressure Is On


Imagine you’re in the Dragons Den, you’re up against a panel collectively worth a billion pounds. The success or failure of your business rests with the decisions you make in the next few minutes. There are 4 million viewers watching. No pressure then.

Of course, not all negotiations take place like this but you do often find yourself having to make some very important decisions in very quick time.

How do you deal with such a situation? How do you think on your feet and make sure you respond in the right way. Here are three top tips that will help you the next time you’re feeling the heat.



If you have no time to think in the negotiation, you need to create time. Now creating time is a neat trick, so how do you do it? You do your thinking before the actual meeting itself, in your preparation.

Know the facts, know the figures – yours, theirs, the competitors, the benchmarks. Know the what-if’s, anticipate the difficult questions, the offers and your responses.

Then you wont be caught off-guard, and you will be able to reply smoothly.


Stay calm

The worst thing to do is panic, your cognitive abilities fly out the window. So stay calm, breathe, do whatever state management technique works best for you.

One successful method is to visualise the meeting going well (again, as part of your preparation). In fact, as well as mentally rehearsing, you can even borrow a friend or colleague and do a physical rehearsal.

Of course, on the real Dragon’s Den, the tv dragons look exceedingly calm – how comes? Well, because they have been on the programme many times before. If you read their accounts, they all say that they were nervous on their first appearance. In negotiation terms, they are a repeat player. This means you have to be a repeat player too – watch every back episode thoroughly and study it until you feel its your home territory.


Buy yourself time

Of course, you can create time by simply not answering straight away. Be ok with being quiet and not feeling you have to answer immediately. If it helps, put on your “thinking face” so they know that some kind of cogitating is going on, you’re not just vacant!

Writing notes and repeating their comments both gain you a few seconds that allow your brain to do some processing. And if you really need to, feel free to take a time out to run some calculations. If you are negotiating in good faith, they will respect that.

And never, never, commit yourself to the wrong deal because of time pressure. Always be prepared to walk away. Born in Chengdu, Sichuan, Ling Valentine famously turned down Duncan Bannatyne and Richard Farleigh, saying Chinese eat dragons for breakfast. She didn’t need them, she increased her turnover by 400% in the next five years.


So remember:

1) Prepare

2) Stay calm

3) Buy time

and you will be able to think on your feet so much better the next time the pressure is on.

Best of luck!