Learning Types and Public Speaking

Learning Types and Public Speaking

One of the most exciting things about writing an article is learning unexpected and useful information. For this article, I wanted to write about different learning preferences, and how important it is to hire event speakers who appeal to multiple different preferences simultaneously. In my head, there were three to four different learning preferences: aural, written/read, kinesthetic and visual. As I expanded my research, however, I learned that learning styles are much more complex than the narrow window I had originally envisioned.

Here’s something you should know about me; I love personality tests. I can’t get enough of them, because they provide a useful lens through which I can analyze my own behaviour. Horoscopes, personality inventories, motivation indexes; you name it, I’ve probably taken it. As you can imagine, when researching learning styles, I took a couple of tests; they all told me I’m not a visual learner, which is something I’ve known for a long time. Here’s what I didn’t anticipate, though; they did not tell me “you’re an aural learner” or “you’re a written/read learner”. They told me something rather different, in fact; that I was a “social-antisocial-written/read-aural-physical-logical” learner; in other words, that I learn from a lot of different things.

Upon reflection, this makes a lot of sense; after all, we have all of these different senses, all of these different connections in the brain. Wouldn’t it make the most sense if we learned best from all of our senses, acting in tandem to give us a better picture of the world? As it turns out, that’s one of the main criticisms of “learning style” inventories; a 2015 study concluded that educators time might be best spent using other models. When you’re looking for someone to give a moving speech, then, what qualities should you be looking for? How do you determine the best way of creating an engaging presentation for your event when learning style preferences are unclear?

The answer seems simple, to me; opt for someone who is going to engage all the senses, all the learning preferences, simultaneously. As we discussed above, doing this might give a more complete picture of the topic; a holistic style where visual aids, social learning, written cues, physical props or demonstrations, music and more are all incorporated is the best way of making sure everyone stays engaged. This idea expands beyond the speech itself; it goes to social media, how the speaker tries to engage individuals before the speech even starts. It goes to the setup of the room, the overall theme of the event; every detail can be infused with sensory and social inputs that make your audience more engaged, more ready to learn. When folks learn, they talk, and when they’re talking about all the exciting things they learned, it generates buzz. The solution, then, is to find a speaker who is going to be engaging on all fronts, someone with the experience and expertise needed to create a wholly engaging event.