Today’s dot was written by Kevin Vandal from Minot State University’s LEAD 201 Collaborative Leadership Class.

This school year, I am a member of a small music ensemble that traveled to local middle schools with outreach presentations. This task of developing and sharing music-based content with younger students was entirely new to me and the other two members, so thankfully we had access to valuable guidance from seasoned professionals.

The difficulty of pre-production complexities, such as planning topics, examples, delegation, and activities were all minimized in comparison to the unforeseen twists and turns of live performing: once we were dismayed to discover we had extra time to fill, another time a 7th grader was disruptively devouring a sandwich – with his classmate’s rapt attention.

Some much-welcomed insight from our mentors led us to grasp one striking, fundamental concept. This idea was that our sole job was to exhibit. Display. We were not charged to instruct, discipline, or even entertain – our job was to put on a show. Simply make some music and knowledge and advice available for consumption.

Why was this a profound realization? This refined vision transformed our presentation approach… Without responsibility for classroom management, disengaged audience members had no reason to panic us. Official freedom to stray from our pre-determined script made the clock less of an enemy, as delightful dialog with curious youth had the potential to fill many minutes. We stepped back from thoughts of lesson plans and being fun for everyone and arrived at the mindset of merely channeling our passion for music in an accessible way. Communicating like this was very effective.

One of our coaches had this advice: be prepared to exhibit without any audience feedback but foster as much of this interaction as possible. As we found ourselves genuinely interested in our own exhibit, our audience became interested. What could have been a lecture became an invitation to a fascinating world. The next time you are sharing with a group, give this a try. Relax your self-imposed constraints and responsibilities then reveal your message to the world. Enthusiasm is contagious; no need to cater to uncaring onlookers. Just exhibit.

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