The Case for Agility in Comms

How to be nimble in an ever-changing environment.

Katherine Grubaugh
Vice President

Whether you work in house, for an agency, or really, anywhere you might be discussing strategy live with peers or leadership, it’s crucial to be able to think on your feet.

Picture this. Or better yet, remember the last time this happened to you. Go ahead, we’ll wait…

You step into a meeting. You’re well-prepared, researched, rehearsed and confident in your strategy. Until…

Someone in the meeting throws a curveball that’s going to change your plans and strategy. What now? 

Fear not! We’re here to share some helpful tips for how to adjust on the fly.

Don’t Panic. Unexpected changes or questions can put a person in defense mode, but don’t let it! Remain calm and buy yourself some time to think about your response or next move. 

Some helpful phrases:

  • “I’m glad you shared this. It’s helpful context as we move forward/look at next steps.” 
  • “Hmm.. That’s an interesting idea/a good factor for us to consider as a group.” 
  • “My initial reaction is XX. Does that sound right, or do you have another thought on that?” 
  • “That’s a great question, and it’s one that we considered. The reason we came to this decision is…”

Ask Questions: Pose a few follow-up questions — even if you think you know the answer. You may find out net-new information and proactively resolve any misunderstandings. 

Some helpful questions:

  • “Let me see if I understood correctly, did you mean…?” 
  • “To clarify, this is a shift from our last conversation in X, Y and Z ways. Is that correct or did I miss anything?” 
  • “How did this update come about, or do you know what’s driving this change?” 
  • “Did you learn something new to change your opinion?” 
  • “Do you have any initial thoughts on that?”

Walk Through Scenarios. When something changes on the fly, it can be helpful to “play out” potential situations. Ask for others’ opinions and encourage a group brainstorm — this can help create a collaborative environment. And remember, keeping your original strategy may still be an option. 

Some helpful phrases:

  • “Let’s say we go X route. I can see that impacting Y. How would you feel about that result?” 
  • “If we entertain X, here are a few questions/concerns that I could see coming up…” 
  • “Let’s explore how X idea might play out.”
  • “We’d never really do this, but for the sake of argument, if we…”

Circle Back. If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t want to commit to a new strategy or need more time to have an informed opinion, ask for it. Take the time you need and provide an expectation for when and how you’ll provide a complete response. 

Some helpful phrases:

  • “Let us discuss and get back to you.” 
  • “I’ll do a little more thinking on that.” 
  • “I can map out a few of these scenarios for you to circulate amongst decision makers.” 
  • “Some additional research or dialogue may help inform next steps. We’ll take that as an action.” 

Change is inevitable, especially in the ever-evolving world of communications. But being nimble helps build confidence and reinforces that you’re the right one for the job. By remaining calm, asking questions, walking through scenarios and taking the time needed to respond thoughtfully, you’ll be prepared for anything and ensure you and your team get the best outcome possible.