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  • Planned Spontaneity

    This method provokes instant responsiveness from an audience or group. It was learned in part from experiencing the awkward delay that occurs when discussion of an address or paper is expected from an audience, and in part from studying the techniques used by subversives to disrupt meetings.

    The writer watched a meeting of deans of medical schools (Palmer House in Chicago) destroyed by distraught medical students. They entered the room silently, filled every vacant seat and stood in lines along the walls on each side of the audience. Then they occupied the podium and took over the public address system. There was no violence and no meeting. A search of a Chicago bookstore revealed the published manual they were using as a guidebook. It contained other information useful for producing successful meetings.

    One method in vogue at the time was to designate a discussant for each paper, but the planned spontaneity approach proved to be much more effective. It works this way.

    Two to eight persons (numbers proportional to size of audience) are instructed to study the subject matter of the paper or address in advance and to rise instantly when discussion is called to make a comment or ask a pertinent question.

    These secret first responders provoke instantaneous audience responsiveness and they fade from the action as regular members of the audience continue the discussion.

    Planned spontaneity evokes the conspiracy potential in each of us and it scintillates a meeting. This is the principle of planned spontaneity.

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