When I was leading presentation training, they included a sequence with spontaneous presentations. The idea was to create an experience to do a spontaneous presentation on an unknown subject and reflect on how it worked. Some participants analyzed the laughs they received from the audience, others noticed how they moved out of their zone of discomfort into known territory, and others just saw the task as being too difficult.
They all found a way to be satisfied with their performance.
What only a few took up, was how much preparation a presentation takes. And even more so, how much effort has to go into knowing one’s subject.
Spontaneous presentations require people to be on top of their subject, to know it inside out, and to be able to adapt it to one’s audience.
Being prepared in this sense means to have understood one’s subject, to be able to teach it, and to be able to know its impact on people’s lives.
What many people will think of, when they think of themselves as being prepared, is the ability to name all the details relevant to the subject.
Another way to look at this is an analogy given by Marcus Aurelius. He said that a true philosopher is a fighter, not a fencer. His point was, that a fighter is prepared as his weapons will be a natural part of him whereas the fencer needs to pick up something to defend himself.
What the metaphor of the fight may hide, is that Marcus Aurelius was talking about the strengths and principles such a fighter has, the weapons or abilities he developed as well as the dignity by which such a person is ruled.
A fighter has developed everything he needs to be prepared and to be able to stand his own ground when necessary.