No Empty Vessels

Empty VesselSocrates taught that there are no empty vessels when it comes to teaching. By that he meant that everyone brings something to the table. There are two approaches to presenting. The most familiar is the one most of us grew up with in our school experiences. A teacher who knew the material would stand in front of a room of students who did not. The teacher would pour into the students the knowledge they had like someone with a pitcher filling an empty vessel. The other approach is to recognize that everyone in the room has something to contribute. At nearly any age each of us brings life experiences into the room that can be tapped to enrich any presentation.

The challenge you face as a presenter is believing this is true. If you believe that everyone in the room has something to contribute, then you are more likely to engage them in the conversation rather than standing up front pouring your knowledge into empty vessels. The best part of the full vessel/full vessel model is that you don’t need to have all the answers. Your audience creates your presentation on the framework you have built. Leading an audience through a process of discovery and letting them make your point for you based on their shared experiences is always more rewarding than dumping information on a partially engaged, partially attentive crowd.

Over the next few posts…perhaps more than a few…I’ll begin to unwrap the way to present using the full vessel/full vessel model. It will be hard for those used to teaching, preaching or presenting using the full vessel/empty vessel model that is most prevalent in our culture. But if you work hard at it, you’ll find every time you do a presentation it will be lively, engaging and fresh…even for you…even if you’ve done the same presentation a hundred times.

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