Much has been written about the different ways in which people learn, and while it may seem this is something only educators need to keep in mind, it’s just as important for leaders in any industry.
When employers don’t take different ways of learning into consideration, especially when planning ongoing trainings and even staff meetings, they could be sacrificing the success of their company.
Just like in a classroom, meetings and training should be inclusive and accessible to all.
There are several different theories on learning styles, but one of the most popular is the VARK model, which separates learners into four distinct categories: visual, aural/auditory, read/write, and kinesthetic.
Defining the learning styles
Visual learners prefer to see what they’re being taught. Employers who use diagrams, maps, and design in their presentations will find that their visual learners will have an easier time absorbing new information.
The aural/auditory learner prefers to hear new information, so using techniques such as lecturing and group discussion will be a good fit for learners in this category.
Read/write learners prefer to absorb new information through reading, so PowerPoint presentations, emails, memos, and handouts will be popular with this group.
Kinesthetic learners prefer to have “real-life” experiences through which they can learn. Demonstrations, videos, and case studies can help kinesthetic learners understand the information being presented to them.
Tips for success
While all of this feels like a lot to think about, employers shouldn’t feel daunted by the prospect of having to serve so many different types of learners—there are many ways to increase the likelihood of success.
For starters, use an agenda that you can share with your team. Not only will this make your employees more comfortable since they’ll know exactly what to expect from the session, but it’ll also make you stay on track to ensure your meetings are efficiently run. Sending the agenda out ahead of time is key, too. This helps your staff prepare new ideas to bring to the session.
Variety is the spice of life—and it’s essential to successful training sessions and meetings, too. Change up the way you run your brainstorming and strategy sessions. While it may seem efficient to have people express their thoughts and ideas verbally, some people won’t feel comfortable enough to participate. Incorporating whiteboards is a simple way to allow your employees to express their ideas.
Other tools such as mind mapping allow visual learners to express their ideas through drawings and diagrams. Guided thinking is another way that employers can help their staff have productive brainstorming and strategy sessions where everyone feels they have an equal opportunity to both learn and share. This can include key questions employees should be asking themselves, diagrams that can help them visualize their ideas, or even case studies that can help them grasp a topic.
Finally, one of the most powerful—and easy—ways in which an employer can create a more successful learning environment is to ask employees how they learn best. Sending a simple survey to employees to ascertain how they prefer to be assigned tasks can save a lot of time when it comes to preparing for meetings and training sessions later on. Knowing if staff members prefer to be assigned projects in person or via email or chat is a great start when creating a productive work environment. Multimedia doesn’t stop at the conference room door. Creating an accessible work experience for employees who learn differently can also be done by using project management software.
Reflecting on the different learning styles of employees will ensure all meetings and training sessions run smoothly. Perhaps more importantly, however, it also empowers workers, giving them equal accessibility to all information and the ability to effectively participate in sessions. Not only will this allow new and different ideas to flow, but it will also give employees a sense of ownership and belonging in the business.
About the author
Jamie Jenson is a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com. She is a freelance journalist who lives and works in Syracuse, New York. Jamie taught middle and high school English for over ten years before attending the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and earning her Master of Arts degree in magazine, newspaper, and online journalism. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Rosemont College and her Master of Science in education from Binghamton University. When she’s not writing or teaching, Jamie enjoys reading, hiking, and traveling. Find her on Twitter @jamieljenson or at her website http://www.jamieljenson.com.