The brain has always fascinated me. From an early age, I recognized that not all people process information the same way. For instance, my sister was the artist in our family. I was the student and athlete. My father was the tinkerer who was completely hands-on with all his grown-up toys (cameras, hand radios and sports cars). Then, I thought the labels were appropriate to reflect our different personalities and aptitudes. Now, I have a different perspective. Those labels actually revealed much more: our different brain types and preferred modes of processing and learning styles.
My father was a tactile/kinesthetic learner who preferred to learn through experience —moving, touching and doing. My sister was a visual thinker who thought in pictures and always responded well when teachers used visual aids, diagrams, handouts and overhead slides. I was a combined type — auditory and tactile/kinesthetic. I learned easily through listening (lectures, discussions, tapes, reading books), although the athlete in me equally preferred learning through doing and being shown how.
I was thinking about all this the other day while listening to a speaker at the 2010 Council of Communication Management Annual Conference. I wondered if communicators considered their constituents’ different brain types — not just their preferred styles but also how their brains process and recall information — when engaging them.
So what if a company told its most important stories — ones that reveal who they are, what they do and stand for, why it matters and how they are different — addressing all three learning styles? Would there be a measurable difference in audience response and engagement by using this approach?
I think so. The time has come to recognize that a workforce is made up of diverse brain types that learn and process information differently. Don’t assume that everyone is getting your message or remembering it if you say it one way.
By the way, what’s your preferred learning style?