What’s Your Audience’s Learning Style?

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As leaders, we frequently set out to teach our peers and teams important points, concepts, and skills. However, how often are we considering our audience’s style of learning?

We all learn differently. I like to learn through experience. I can read books over and over again but if I can’t experience or act something out, I simply will not retain the new knowledge (e.g. my 7 years of Spanish that have dramatically faded from my memory). However, other people may do well with a book, a diagram, audio, a list, one-bit-at-a-time, saturation (lots-of-bits-at-a-time), or through any other options.

I once had a (admittedly) very linear-minded employee whose job was to outfit people for footwear. That person’s speed of going from the sales floor to the warehouse to get a pair of shoes and then back to the sales floor was not as fast as one might like it to be. One day, I remade the signage in our warehouse to be color-coded (one brand was listed in green, another in orange, etc… at the end of each aisle) in order to make it easier for someone to find a shoe. That employee immediately became much more efficient and much less frustrated, simply because I made a small adjustment to the colors used in our warehouse… and this has resulted in happier customers, happier employees, and more efficient payroll spending in that department. What’s also cool to note is that this didn’t adversely affect employees who aren’t color-minded.

So here’s the challenge: The next time you attempt to communicate a point or teach something to someone, ask yourself “how does this person learn best?” Once you have that answer, curtail your communication in that way. You may be amazed at how a simple modification will make your lesson much more effective.

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Filed under communication, leadership, observation

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