Are you an “I read it in a book” person or a “learn by doing” person?
We all have different ways we prefer to seek out information – whether that’s watching a video, reading an article or getting your hands dirty and having a go for yourself. These preferences for how we learn and retain information are formed throughout our lives and are something we all take into the workplace with us too.
Knowing your own learning style and using it to your advantage can help you maximise your ability to process and learn important lessons when running your business. So let’s look at the different types of learner and how to approach their learning to grow your business.
What are the different learning styles?
The learning styles theory is one that is hotly contested between teachers and psychologists who question its accuracy – with some psychologists calling learning styles ‘a myth’.
So perhaps a better way to think of these would be learning preferences: how people find they like to learn and retain information. Anecdotally, this is something most of us have. So let’s take a look at the different types of learner you may meet in the workplace.
The visual learner
Learn by seeing
People who prefer to learn through visual means tend to like images, diagrams and charts to visualise information. Using a mix of colours, tones and shapes to present information can help more visual learners better understand and remember it.
How to use this in business: Think about how you present data. If you have facts and figures to report, can you put them in a visual form too – such as a graph or a chart? Can you avoid the dreaded ‘death by PowerPoint’ and freshen up your templates, or even pivot to an alternative presentation tool altogether? This will help you stand out.
Remember that a picture can paint a thousand words. Whether presenting to other business leaders, chasing up sales opportunities or simply marketing your services online, videos and infographics can capture the attention and imagination of your audience – especially if they’re visual learners.
The auditory learner
Learn by hearing
People who prefer to learn through listening tend to like hearing information presented to them rather than reading it somewhere else. They may be the kind of person who prefers to pick up the phone and have a conversation rather than message or email back-and-forth.
How to use this in business: Embrace the power of people. Auditory learners tend to thrive in meetings and get the most out of verbal presentations, so don’t be afraid to get people together to have an in-person or virtual chat in real-time if you need their opinions.
In addition to in-person communication, media such as videos can help auditory learners process information. If training a new member of staff with this learning preference, for example, recorded explainer videos or walkthroughs of your software or product can help you get them up to speed in good time and demonstrate best practices from day one.
The verbal learner
Learn by reading and writing
People who prefer to learn verbally tend to like interacting with information through the written word. They tend to be the kind of person who can absorb information well through reading articles, whitepapers or other written instructions and can often be found making notes or lists in their own words to help them retain information.
How to use this in business: Remember the written follow-up. Keeping thorough written records for yourself and your colleagues to refer to can not only help document everything you learn, but it makes onboarding new staff or even customers a more consistent process.
If you don’t already, try to get into the habit of keeping structured documentation for all of your internal processes – product documentation, customer onboarding and HR documents are a few you may want to prioritise. Keep these up to date and easily accessible. This is both a benefit for verbal learners in your organisation but is also good practice generally.
The kinesthetic learner
Learn by doing
People who prefer to learn by doing tend to like engaging in an activity themselves in order to learn first-hand from the experience. They can be described as being pretty ‘hands-on’ and will learn by building, doing and solving problems as they go.
How to use this in business: Allow safe spaces to fail. Someone who learns by doing needs the space to experiment, fail and try again to get the most out of their skillset.
While this might sound a bit scary, practically speaking this can simply mean giving employees a test environment to try out new ideas and encourage a workplace culture where people are able to be transparent and speak up. In a commercial setting, using a kinesthetic approach to learning could look like giving a customer a limited free trial of your product or service as a taster to try out for themselves before committing to a full purchase.
How to use learning styles to grow your business
Learning is crucial to growing your business. But everyone learns differently. A blended learning strategy containing materials which suit multiple different learning styles can help you get the best out of both employees and customers to grow your business success.
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