Every day’s a school day…
Recently I was reminded of my time in secondary education, and how some lessons really gripped me, while others left little or no impression at all. The likely reason for this was brought home to me whilst acquiring my Level 3 award in Education and Training - part of my learning and development programme for Libra 3E. This was a great course where I covered the basics of training facilitation and identifying learning needs and planning sessions - all useful for setting up and delivering course curriculums! However, what really captured my interest was the discussion around learning styles, especially the VARK model coined by Neil Fleming.
VARK stands for Visual, Aural, Read/write, and Kinesthetic sensory modalities that are used for learning information. In short, it’s a simple model that can help us not only learn more effectively, but also help us understand each other better – essential in any change management or transformation environment.
A very brief overview of VARK:
V – Visual learners, typically likes watching “how to” videos and taking information in graphically
A – Aural, usually enjoys talking about problems and ideas, they like to ask questions and listen to responses.
R – Read/Write, enjoy researching topics and reading to enhance their knowledge
K – Kinaesthetic, really enjoys practical activities and getting stuck into the situation
Most of us can be grouped into these styles of learning, but it’s also worth remembering that people’s styles can change based on the situation they find themselves in.
If we understand a learning style to be the way we like to receive information then we can use this to improve the way we interact and engage each other when we need to get a point across. This is true for either a sales pitch, a presentation to your peers or one on one feedback.
As a visual learner, it’s no surprise that my presentations are biased to the visual – something my colleagues and clients will certainly recognise! I use pictures and diagrams rather than words and discussions, which is great for me and other visual learners, but can be challenging for audience members who favour reading, writing or practical styles of learning.
With this in mind, how do we make our communications more inclusive so we engage our whole audience? Keep it simple and make sure you consider all 4 styles when planning your communications.
1. Supplement diagram or video led presentations with handouts that summarise all the important information
2. Get practical with examples, e.g. can you involve a practical session that demonstrates your points?
3. Create an environment where people feel comfortable to discuss new ideas
4. Involve 3D media for a more visual experience
5. Build in simple instructions on slides or videos
With just a little bit of creative thinking, there are limitless opportunities and as long as you try and cover the 4 main styles, your presentations will be far more successful in reaching and inspiring your audience.
Gareth Turner is a Project Manager at Libra Change Partners, Libra Europe Consulting’s change management business. Gareth and his colleagues work in partnership with clients to deliver meaningful performance improvements, by engaging, empowering and enabling teams to effect sustainable change.