In the world of orations and presentations, it’s not uncommon that the discussion more resembles a monologue. From speeches delivered by monarchs to college lectures, the person who everyone is looking at is typically the only one to speak. Information is shared, and the audience listens. Although this approach is pervasive in most societies, we must ask ourselves- is it really that effective? Yes, a student may be able to hear their professor clearly, but is the point being made if it is not being debated? If someone has a dissenting view and they are unable to share it for any number of reasons, will the information they’ve been given even stick in their head? It seems that people just don’t have faith in conversations.
Three Different Styles
Many college lectures, speeches, and symposia fall into the category of “classical” engagement, which is seen as a bygone form of communication which never did a good job of changing peoples’ minds. With classical engagement, one person speaks and the other person (or people) listen without saying anything. It is one-sided and does not allow for dissent. For this reason it is also known as the deficit model.
There are two other forms of engagement: the framing model and the contemporary model. Both are argued to be better than the classical model for a number of reasons. The best ability of the framing model is its knack for finding things in common and searching for a middle ground- it is an excellent conversation model when trying to end a debate, but perhaps not as good when a speaker or panel is engaging with the audience. The framing model is a step up from the classical model because it takes into account the differences of the opponent. This is an effective tool to have during a debate between speakers, but the reason it is not the best is because it spins away from finding points of tension. Last, but not least, there is the contemporary model. This model is able to achieve the highest level of engagement between two or more actors because it forces the speakers to facilitate dialogue. One of the key roles of the contemporary model is saying (in one way or another) “please continue.” Although what we hear from another speaker may not always be what we agree with, in order to facilitate good engagement it is necessary to do so. When a person feels listened to, they are more likely to listen.
Tying It In
For the ENVX Symposium, it’s trickier than usual to find the appropriate amount of engagement. When a speaker is on stage, they should listen to the audience and account for dissenting opinions, but at the end of the day they’re trying to relay information, not have a debate. This is why it is important to keep the classical model present in symposia. In moments when there are less people present, such as at a training exercise, meal with a speaker, or small event, the contemporary model is the most effective type when multiple positions are held. If a speaker was attempting to convince the dinner table of their position, they would be better off listening to dissenting opinions before answering in order to garner mutual respect. It comes at no surprise that a conversation is one of the best methods one can employ to change minds, garner support, and create understanding. The framing model does not have a critical role in a symposium, but that does not mean it isn’t important. This model can help de-escalate a debate and ensure that topics don’t flow into other sections. If two speakers did not quash an argument on the stage, they may be less likely to engage further on, thus degrading the symposium as a whole.