How to Respond When You’re Put on the Spot in a Meeting

How to Respond When You’re Put on the Spot in a Meeting

Harvard Biz Review

“Katherine, have a go at it?”

I love this scene from the 2017 movie, Hidden Figures. Katherine, played by Taraji P. Henson, is put on the spot by her boss, played by Kevin Costner, in a room filled with top brass NASA officials — all male. She is asked to go to the chalkboard and lay out the math to bring John Glenn’s space capsule out of orbit and back to Earth.

This moment has all the elements of classic storytelling — something unexpected happens, something disruptive and uncomfortable — and then a memorable moment becomes a life lesson for everyone who is paying attention.

Katherine steps up and displays not only her math brilliance, but also her presence — both of which would not have been revealed to the rest of the group unless she was put on the spot.

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