Individual learning styles gained popularity in the 1970s, as we learned that different people learn best in different modes of learning. It is now widely accepted in the academic community that three main learning styles exist: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. While no individual absolutely subscribes to a single type, most people instinctively favor one to the point where they retain certain types of information better than others.
As an instructor in the corporate world, this is an important aspect of learning that can render your presentation style ineffective for some workers. Fortunately, there are proven methods that mentors can use to aid all employees with absorbing relevant information. These methods are crucial steps to take to ensure that more than just a fraction of your audience benefits from your presentation.
Here are a few tips for incorporating these methods and teaching for all learning types effectively:
Visual learners are people who learn better when connecting concepts with visual information, such as graphs, charts, or images. They tend to memorize images better than words, prefer to observe their surroundings rather than contribute to conversations, and more accurately follow written instructions than verbal instructions.
Tips for teaching visual learners:
- Use visual aids (images, flow charts, graphs, etc.) to supplement verbal instruction
- Color code presentation notes and highlight important concepts to aid them in sorting the most vital information and focusing on key points
- Encourage the audience to take notes to solidify the main ideas in their minds
Auditory learners benefit from listening to the information they are trying to retain. These people don’t just learn by listening to other people talk, but by repeating information to themselves. Auditory learners are sometimes easily distracted and enjoy being read to.
Tips for teaching auditory learners:
- Repeat important concepts in the presentation to ensure that the auditory learners pick up on them
- Use expression when speaking to keep the audience focused and aware of how the presentation is proceeding
- Eliminate any possible distractions and teach in quiet settings
- Discuss the topic with the audience/learner in a conversational manner
These learners absorb information better when they are physically active and involved in the lesson. Kinesthetic learners tend to have physical tics, such as fidgeting with their hands or touching nearby objects. Kinesthetic learners are known for being open to experimenting with new things, and enjoy trying to solve problems without being given prior instruction.
Tips for teaching Kinesthetic Learners:
- Incorporate physical objects and models into the presentation so that they have the ability to interact with the presentation
- Take periodic breaks to allow the audience to move around and stretch
- Use role play to act out situations and get the audience involved in the instruction
- Encourage note taking during a presentation
How to instruct a mixed group of people without more heavily benefitting one type of learner
An important thing to keep in mind is that most instructors habitually teach in a manner that would help themselves learn. For example, a visual learner would instinctively teach in a manner that benefits visual learners the most. By knowing what type of learner you are, you can adjust your teaching style and incorporate methods that aid other types of learners. More often than not, you won’t find yourself teaching an audience solely comprised of one type of learner.
Additionally, unless you ask each member of the audience to complete a quiz to determine their learning type, you won’t know which people prefer which methods of information delivery. As consequence, you will need to use a variety of teaching styles to stimulate all of the members in the audience. The next time you instruct a group of people, supplement your oral training with images and charts to represent the information, and include role playing to get the audience more engaged with your lesson.