The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Confusing spontaneous

Some years ago I was regularly leading training on presentation skills. One of the exercises participants often used to laugh about and have fun with was an invitation to make a spontaneous presentation. They would receive a topic and had a few minutes to present it.

Some participants got stuck and had a problem to continue talking after a few sentences and would have loved to run away. Others believed that their best solution was to run ahead and continue to talk, whatever they were saying.

For the other participants, it was time to laugh and enjoy seeing the individual struggle. With a supportive atmosphere, in general, this wasn’t a problem as it helped the speaker feel less stressed.

For us trainers, this part of the training was often the most difficult one. Having fun, the participants often assumed that this was the way to go. A spontaneous presentation became for them one that is there to entertain others.

Being asked to do the exercise, they complied with it. They didn’t see the possibility to question their ability to make a spontaneous presentation on the given topic.

For them, spontaneity was associated with natural and authentic.

Consequently, any transformation, planning or preparation was not imaginable. A spontaneous presentation thus meaning whatever is possible in the moment.

That’s how they lost track of their ability to learn to do interesting, enlightening or humorous presentations by building the necessary expertise. They had not seen, that spontaneity could be based on practice or experience.

The definition of spontaneous describes it as follows “something that is spontaneous has not been planned or organized but happens by itself, or because you suddenly feel you want to do it”. It doesn’t say is, if there is preparation, expertise or any other ability involved. The only thing it says is that the specific action has not been planned nor prepared as such.

The sad thing is, that the belief used is one that denies the ability to develop one’s own talent.


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