Skip to Main Content

Think Faster, Talk Smarter

How to Speak Successfully When You're Put on the Spot


About The Book

Develop the life-changing ability to excel in spontaneous communication situations—from public speaking to interviewing to networking—with these essential strategies from a Stanford lecturer, coach, and host of the popular Think Fast, Talk Smart The Podcast.

Many of us dread having to convey our ideas to others, often feeling ill-equipped, anxious, and awkward. Public speaking experts help by focusing on planned communication experiences such as slide presentations, pitches, or formal talks. Yet, most of our professional and personal communication occurs in spontaneous situations that creep up on us and all too often leave us flustered and stumbling for words. How can we rise to the occasion and shine when we’re put on the spot?

In Think Faster, Talk Smarter, Stanford lecturer, podcast host, and communication expert Matt Abrahams provides tangible, actionable skills to help even the most anxious of speakers succeed when speaking spontaneously. Abrahams provides science-based strategies for managing anxiety, responding to the mood of the room, and making content concise, relevant, compelling, and memorable. Drawing on stories from his clients and students, he offers best practices for navigating Q&A sessions, shining in job interviews, providing effective feedback, making small talk, fixing faux pas, persuading others, and handling other impromptu speaking tasks.

Whether it’s a prospective client asking you an unexpected question during a meeting or all eyes turning to you at a dinner party, you’ll know how to navigate the situation like a pro and bring out your very best. Think Faster, Talk Smarter is an accessible guide to communication that will help you master new techniques in no time.

About The Author

Photograph by

Matt Abrahams is a leading expert in communication with decades of experience as an educator, author, podcast host, and coach. As a Lecturer in Organizational Behavior at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, he teaches popular classes in strategic communication and effective virtual presenting. He received Stanford GSB’s Alumni Teaching Award in recognition of his teaching students around the world. When he isn’t teaching, Matt is a sought-after keynote speaker and communication consultant. He has helped countless presenters improve and hone their communication, including some who have delivered IPO road shows as well as TED, World Economic Forum, and Nobel Prize presentations. His online talks garner millions of views and he hosts the popular, award-winning podcast Think Fast, Talk Smart The Podcast. His previous book Speaking Up without Freaking Out: 50 Techniques for Confident and Compelling Presenting has helped thousands of people manage speaking anxiety and present more confidently and authentically.

Product Details

  • Publisher: S&S/Simon Element (September 26, 2023)
  • Length: 256 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781668010303

Browse Related Books

Raves and Reviews

“We read the book and now we're furiously fast, shockingly smart. Matt blends wit with wisdom, science-backed strategies with actionable insights, empowering us all to communicate with greater confidence and connection. Plus, it's a joy to read.” —Jennifer Aacker and Naomi Bagdonas authors of Humor, Seriously: Why Humor Is a Secret Weapon in Business and Life (And how anyone can harness it. Even you.)

Think Faster, Talk Smarter is just the book you need to improve at spontaneous speaking. Matt Abrahams offers a six step approach to help anyone think faster and talk smarter when put on the spot. Grounded in careful research and informed by Abrahams' many years teaching communication skills to Stanford MBAs, this book is filled with useful advice.” —Katy Milkman author of How to Change: The Science of Getting from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be and Choiceology podcast host

"Matt Abrahams has a gift for making complex concepts easy to understand and simple to enact. Think Faster, Talk Smarter a testament to this skill, decoding the often-intimidating world of spontaneous communication and coaching us to approach the challenge with less fear and more empathy. If you’ve ever struggled to summon the right words at the right time, this book is an essential read.”- Daniel H. Pink, #1 New York Times bestselling author of To Sell is Human, Drive, and The Power of Regret

“A truly masterful guide to finding your voice when it matters most. Think Faster Talk Smarter is a must-read for anyone who ever feels stress or self-doubt when it's time to speak up. A master class in feeling more confident sharing yourself and connecting with others.” —Kelly McGonigal, author of The Upside of Stress and The Joy of Movement

“Salivate. Dare to be dull. Turn resistance into curiosity. Every page of Matt Abrams’ relentlessly useful and entertaining gem is packed with research-based ideas about how all of us anxious speakers can banish our fears, harness our anxiety, and persuade audiences to appreciate us and our ideas. My only complaint is that I wish I had read it 20 years ago!” —Robert I. Sutton, New York Times Bestselling author of eight books, including The No Asshole Rule, Scaling Up Excellence (with Huggy Rao), and The Friction Project (with Huggy Rao)

"Matt’s understanding of human interaction is exceptional. His tools for thinking quickly and speaking clearly are indispensable for anyone, even in our modern texting world. His easy-to-understand approach helps anyone to become a better “in-the-moment” communicator." —Tony Fadell, Nest founder, iPod inventor, New York Times Bestselling Author of Build

"Matt's ideas and insights in Think Faster, Talk Smarter are priceless. I spent my life working in front of a television camera but would get nervous speaking in front of a live crowd. That would shock people since millions saw me every day – but of course, I didn’t see them. It took me years to conquer my nerves and feel comfortable and confident speaking in front of a live audience. Matt makes it easy with his focus on the connection over perfection. His specific examples in the book provide a clear roadmap to help you be your best self when under pressure." —Joan Lunden, Journalist, Author, Keynote Speaker, and Television Host

"Think Faster, Talk Smarter serves as a gold standard for communication best practices. Matt’s six step approach to speaking confidently and clearly in spontaneous situations helps calm the nervous system so you can focus on what matters: creating connection with those around you and responding in the moment. If you struggle with any type of communication, this book is for you." —David Eagleman, Neuroscientist, Author, Technologist, Entrepreneur, and host of the "Inner Cosmos with David Eagleman" podcast

“Matt Abrahams shows us how to overcome the challenges of having to speak unexpectedly. He does so by providing a remarkably helpful and specific set of recommendations, which I certainly plan to follow.” —Robert Cialdini, author Influence and Pre-suasion

"Being able to speak confidently off the cuff impacts every facet of our lives. Matt Abrahams has spent decades developing tools that harness the power of spontaneous communication, and not just for public speakers but for anyone who finds themselves needing to speak in the moment. Think Faster, Talk Smarter provides you with easy to implement, actionable tips and techniques for success." –Philip Zimbardo, Psychology Professor Emeritus Stanford University. Author of The Lucifer Effect and Living and Loving Better with Time Perspective Therapy

Resources and Downloads

High Resolution Images