Creative Thinking · Thinking on Your Feet

The Secret to Impressing People: Be Prepared for the Unexpected


WHAT!! Plan accordingly for the unexpected?!

Right now you might be thinking, “Angie you are crazy.  How can I plan for the unexpected?”

The answer is simple…do your research!

With so many resources at your fingertips (the internet, newspaper articles, social media, the library, and more) there is no reason you should not be able to learn a truckload of information about a company or a topic and plan accordingly for many situations.

Planning is necessary for starting or contributing to conversations, asking relevant questions, solving problems effectively, participating intelligently in meetings, negotiating successfully, networking, and more.

Following are a couple examples of situations where you can plan for the unexpected:

Learn as much as you can about the other attendees and the topic(s) that will be discussed at the meeting. With this information, you can attend the meeting equipped with a means of connecting with other participants and a list of questions, observations, or opinions about agenda items.

Parties or Networking Events
The key to planning for the unexpected while attending a party or networking event is understanding that small talk usually revolves around common topics such as the time of year, something in the news, your work, your family and so on. With this as a given, following are three ways you can plan accordingly:

  1. Keep up on current events
  2. Prepare short responses or interesting stories ahead of time to address questions that someone might ask you.  Questions such as:
         • “How have you been?”
         • “How is your job going?”
         • “What have you been up to lately?”
         • “Did you hear about [that news story]?”
         • “Got any plans for [the upcoming holiday]?”
         • “How is that project going?”
  3. Go to an event armed with a couple of topics to talk about and three or four generic, open-ended (not yes or no) questions geared toward starting conversations.  Examples:
    “I was just reading about _________. What is your opinion about [that topic]?”
         • “What do you think about [news story]…?”
         • “I really enjoy [hobby]. What do you like to do for fun?”

When you plan accordingly for the unexpected you will impress people with how much you know about them and/or what they do, how quickly you grasp what the issues are, and how well you are able to think on your feet.

Plan accordingly for the unexpected by asking yourself …“What if…?”

NEXT STEP:  Do you have a situation or event coming up where you should prepare for the unexpected?  Below tell me how you will plan accordingly for the unpredictable.

Next week I will expand more on this post by sharing with you some tips for preparing for the unexpected during a job interview.  Be sure to click “Follow” at the top right-hand corner of this post so you do not miss upcoming tips for managing life’s chaos!

Make this your best day,


P.S.  If you found this information helpful, click the links below and share it on Facebook or Twitter.

Angie R. Boecker is a specialist in managing life’s chaos.  She is the author of two books, Effective Grant Writing: Submit a Stronger Application and The Secrets to Thinking on Your Feet and a blog entitled The Travel Element.  As a public speaker, Angie has spoken to audiences on topics that help them manage life’s chaos.

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