3 Top Replies to On-the-Spot Idea Requests

Meeting planners, like other business professionals, often find themselves in situations where they are asked on the spot to come up with creative, significant ideas that will help their company.

These situations occur in a variety of settings, including meetings with their boss and gatherings with other staff members. Coming up with any ideas, let alone great ones, can sometimes be challenging, but there are ways to effectively handle the situations. Here are a few ideas, adapted from The Muse, an online career resource.

“Let me think about that and get back to you”: Sometimes, meeting planners simply won’t come up with any meaningful contributions on the spot. In such cases, it’s best not to just blurt out something because you feel compelled to contribute. One approach is to ask to have a bit more time to think about it during the meeting. Sometimes, further conversation about the topic will help you to generate ideas. When appropriate, another good approach is to say that you need to spend time thinking about it after the meeting. This can be a very good response when the matter is extremely important, requiring more reflection.

“Just off the top of my head”: Especially in brainstorming sessions, which typically are meant for the free flow of spontaneous ideas, it’s fine to throw out ideas that instantly come into your head. When necessary, preface your ideas by saying some such as, “Just off the top of my head, …,” In these cases, your idea isn’t expected to be definitive or the final solution to the issue. Rather, it’s simply expected to add to the flow of ideas, and can potentially contribute to a resolution of the matter being discussed.

“Can you elaborate further?”: Sometimes, meeting planners feel unclear about what is being asked of them. Don’t assume that this is your fault: It could very well be that your boss or whoever else is asking you to generate ideas is being a bit nebulous, and needs to elaborate. In such cases, don’t hesitate to request clarification. This will help you to come up with much better suggestions than you would if you took a stab at replying with a hazy understanding.

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