August 10, 2009

In the course of my work as a trainer in Presentation Skills, I noticed how talented most course-participants were in designing their own visual aids.

Before the days of Power Point slides, there was greater scope for expressing ideas in visual form and for designing the composition of each individual slide.

So often there would be an initial protest – “I can’t draw”, “I couldn’t design anything to save my life”- only to be followed later by accolades from others in the group for their original and creative work – and their own smile of acknowledgement.

“Why do people hide their talents, and yet get so much satisfaction when they discover and express them?”, I asked myself. “Would they – regardless of their age – welcome the chance to “have a go”, to “give it a try”? Could this apply to other creative talents, too? Perhaps we are all “multi-talented”, I thought. This Renaissance idea appealed to me, and so MULTI-TALENT was born.


It was not long before I decided to test their reactions. This was the way I did it:

* I invited four friends who played music (a pianist, a saxophone-player, and two guitarists), but did not know each other, to come together in a church hall I rented – and allow me experiment on them.
* I asked them to try playing together, and watched them improvise. I noticed how quickly they dovetailed their different styles, and how much fun they had doing it. I joined in with percussion (maracas) as best I could.
* Next, using some basic Karaoke equipment I had hired, I asked them to try singing and playing along to the songs. Their fun increased.
* I made a video recording of some of their performances, and played it back to them. They enjoyed that even more.

After a couple of these experimental sessions, I reckoned I had the basis for a Multi-Talent MAKING MUSIC workshop. I just needed a client……


A client from the past, suddenly contacted me. He asked what I could do to get two teams he was responsible for to work better together and lose some of their inhibitions.

A few weeks later, we all met at 2 o’clock in the afternoon in a hotel on the outskirts of Vienna where I had reserved four separate conference-rooms. I split the 30-odd participants into four groups and set them off on a series of rehearsals, moving from room to room in turn, each time faced with different instruments, or karaoke equipment, or just books with the words and music of well-known songs.

The final concert took place at 6 pm, each group performing 4 songs on an improvised stage at the end of the biggest room. Some dressed to suit the the song, some used make-up, in addition. They had a lot of fun, were very creative, and revealed facets of their personalities previously well hidden. And it was all on video, which increased their enjoyment exponentially.

Naturally, we closed with a prize-giving and a glass of champagne to celebrate a new sense of “team”. My client was very happy with it all, and I earned my first fee for running a Multi-Talent creativity workshop, and very respectable fee it was.


I have since organized MAKING MUSIC workshops for people over fifty, for homeless teenagers, and for university students studying Creativity at a Spanish university. The response was exciting, heartening, and – if I was a talent-scout – potentially very lucrative. In MAKING MUSIC workshops, I now ask the teams to design and produce a poster for their group/band, which adds an element of artwork design and creative writing.

Talking of CREATIVE WRITING, I have also got this workshop up and running, based on an initial event I organized for a cultural association. It, in fact, ended up as a writers group, which is still going three years later.

Later, came the opportunity to experiment further by using the basis of the MAKING MUSIC workshop to enable young Portuguese teenagers to practise and develop their rudimentary English. They did this by singing Karaoke songs and presenting their own simulated TV programme in English. It demonstrated that this is a variant which can be used with non-English speakers as a valuable additional LANGUAGE LEARNING tool.


This workshop simply promotes the skills, the wit, the entertainment, the innate curiosity involved in good conversation. I ran it for the same client who had commissioned MAKING MUSIC a year before, This time the challenge was to help his young staff (in a new internet-based subsidiary) to open up with each other and grow in confidence and social skills – both needed when speaking to clients on the phone or communicating via the net. Using a classic TV Talk-show format, and in two separate teams, I organized them to be: first, the studio audience while the others ran the talk-show, and then vice-versa. The live shows that ensued and then the playback on video were received with delight and gave lots of opportunities to point out how conversation works. Again, the additional team-building effect was a valuable bonus. By the way, they had the choice of using English rather than German, which allowed them to polish their language skills as well.


At some point, a thought crossed my mind – why not run one of these workshops a few days before a major, established artistic event? I immediately thought of my friends in Ferrara in Italy, who had started an International Buskers Festival. Why not run a MAKING MUSIC workshop the week before the Festival and then encourage at least some of the “new” musicians to stay on and try playing in the streets, be buskers themselves?

My friends in Ferrara have agreed, and it is now ready to go.

In France, south of Paris, there is a “painters” village which would lend itself to the same approach, using the Multi-Talent DRAW IT, PAINT IT creativity workshop.

And so on, and so on…..


Starting in 2000, I have organized several private conferences in Portugal,  under the title THE MULTI-TALENT VIRTUAL ADVISORY BOARD.  The idea was to invite a small group of professionals of varying backgrounds and ages, to come together for a long weekend and discuss new ideas, new thinking, and “works in progress”, at the start of this new century.  Feedback and advice were free. Topics have ranged from WORK-LIFE BALANCE to ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES, to BREAKING DEATH’S TABOO, to IT’S A WOMAN’S WORLD.

Never more than ten people, these get-togethers have worked well and generated tangible results for the individuals and companies/organizations who have attended.


Last July, I conducted – for the second year running – a “Making Music” workshop for the students and lecturers of a Spanish-language week-long Graduate MA Course seminar in Creativity.  This was organized by the Professor of Creativity from the University of Santiago de Compostela and held in Ponte de Lima, in northern Portugal.  I used a mixture of English – which many understood – and Portuguese, plus a bit of interpretation.  Somehow, it worked.  They gave a concert at the end with: one Karaoke song, one classic evergreen song, and a song of their own which they composed on the spot, plus a poster featuring their band.  All in three hours.  They loved it.


It is still in an experimental phase.  I personally do not want to develop it further on my own.  I have done the pioneering work and tried out the basic concept and methodology to the point where I know it works.  I have conducted workshops in other cultures and in at least one other language – German.  I stand by its simple message that “every person has more than one talent, but not always the chance to express them. They deserve to have that chance”.   MULTI-TALENT is a powerful means to help them do it.


My intention, short-term, is to organize further experimentation in different countries (Croatia, Portugal, and Ireland) and with different types of workshop, while looking for people with the interest and expertise to turn the working-concept of MULTI-TALENT into a licence-based, worldwide company.  This will require them to share the commitment and vision inherent in helping individuals and organizations to develop themselves in the area of Creativity, while operating professionally using the tried and tested business principles that apply to a Licensing system.


I am the 100% owner of MULTI-TALENT GmbH (registered in Vienna) and I am willing to sell the company (the tried and tested concept and the intellectual property) to one or more persons who can demonstrate that they have a well worked-out business plan to grow the company, plus a serious understanding of the concept and the methodology.  I am prepared to stay involved (on contract) for a period of years to develop further workshop designs (i.e. content) and conduct training in the methodology (train-the-trainer).  I would expect to receive remuneration for these services via a “royalty” payment each time a workshop or event is run.


If you would like to express an interest in taking up this challenge, please email me:, with details of your background and why “growing MULTI-TALENT” would appeal to you.

Thank you.

Alec Taylor


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