Whether you are training new hires or making a presentation to a large group, it’s important to communicate your ideas properly. And whether you do this in person, or online it requires additional steps to create engagement and interactivity.
Adults learn differently and bring their life experiences and cognitive abilities with them, and thus have different ways of learning and processing information that may not necessarily resonate with everyone in the same way.
Presenting material in different styles and modalities can transform a training experience from frustration into an epiphany. Balance your training where some work can be done collaboratively in a peer-to-peer environment and where your new hires can learn from each other while solving problems.
Personalize the experience to enable your employees to adapt to methods that best suit their learning style. Storytelling and linking situational examples with past experiences or scenarios can lead to better retention.
Adult learners have specific learning styles and balancing your training where you can combine the various styles can also have a positive impact.
For example, some people learn best through pictures and graphics. Others connect with metaphors and associations, while some learn best through reading or listening to an oral presentation. Some may have trouble sitting still for hours and may learn better by doing group activities.
Most of us learn best through a combination of pictures, sounds, and feelings, that compliment our dominant learning style. This idea is crystallized in an educational theory called “VAK,” for “visual, auditory, kinesthetic.”
If you facilitate training, and onboarding sessions, or make frequent presentations consider experimenting with visual, auditory, and kinesthetic modalities and notice how participants respond.
Auditory learners learn best through language; when something makes sense to them, they may say, “I hear that!”. If your training materials are text-heavy, encourage participants to take turns reading the material aloud. Use the Socratic method – ask questions and let the group paraphrase the core ideas in their own words. Invite compelling guest speakers to share their stories and teach in different verbal styles. E-learning materials can include audiobooks or podcasts that can be consumed on the go. Use repetition or clever wordplay to help the material “click.”
Skilled copywriters are well-positioned to help you speak your audience’s language and get them talking.
This type of learner likes to move around, do things, and take a “hands-on” approach to learning. Reading a book or watching a video may become a challenge if they can’t get involved and connect to the ideas being presented. Kinesthetic learners will retain more information if they take notes by hand, work with three-dimensional models, or interact with others in the group. To engage kinesthetic learners, let them change seats, or stand as needed for part of the presentation or provide frequent breaks for snacks and fresh air. Make your training interactive, and add components of peer-to-peer learning.
The right experience designer or instructional designer can help design modules to create more interaction.
Visual learners learn best with visuals, graphics, presentations, slideshows, videos, flowcharts, and infographics. To engage them, use color, diagrams, photographs, and information architecture to break up heavy text. They have keen aesthetic sensibilities and see the symbolism in imagery that others may overlook. When explaining themselves to others, they may say, “look here,” or “let me draw you a picture.”
To engage visual learners, work with the best designers and presentation specialists you can find.
If you are training online, be sure to take plenty of breaks, group trainees into breakout rooms, call on the audience to read portions of the text, use the whiteboard, and use slides where possible.
What is your learning style?