Conference and Meeting Design: Catering to Analytical and Structured Learners

Like burgers, learners should have it your wayWe have previously discussed how an understanding of learning styles can help facilitators, speakers, event and conference planners deliver content that is easy for participants to understand and digest. In part 2, we focused on Visual and Kinesthetic Learners.

Today we'll discuss strategies that work effectively for left brain dominant structured and Analytical learners. Representing 25 - 39% of adult learners, they respond well to auditory and traditional approaches to content delivery.


Analytical Learners (Blue)

Whole Brain Model - AnalyticalAnalytical learners can tolerate longer presentations, however, they have a low tolerance for fluff. They need time to pause and reflect on what they've learned.

  • Session Starters: Tough Questions - Avoid the use of the term icebreaker. It will be a turn-off. Working in pairs or trios, participants generate and post work-related tough questions. Pause intermittently and tick off questions that have been addressed.
  • Content Delivery: Presentations can be as long as 30 minutes but must include facts, figures, statistics, and real world examples or there could be difficulty in bridging between the content and the real world. Speakers will lose credibility with analytical learners if they don't include compelling data in what they present.

    Be sure to have clear introductions, summaries and transitions before moving on to the next module or content segment. Include review sheets at the end of each segment and give participants 5 minutes to quietly reflect and capture key learnings and applications.
  • Energizers: Metallic puzzles, Sudoku, music during breaks only.
  • Practice: Case Studies that involve some number crunching. Exercises involving cause effect diagrams.
  • Debriefing: Traditional debriefs work well with analytical learners. Ensure that breakout groups keep their reports short, structured and to the point.
  • Review Re-cap: Traditional re-caps.
  • Application: Tough Questions Re-play - Get the tables to exchange questions. Provide time to generate answers. Return the questions to the original tables.

Structured Learners (Green)

Whole Brain Model - StructuredContent must be delivered in a manner that is structured and follows a logical step-by-step process.

  • Session Starters: Involve trios and pairs in a write your own case study exercise using a W5 (When, Where, Who, What, Why) to generate a specific, job-related case that is relevant to session content.
  • Content Delivery: Presentations must be well structured with clear introductions, summaries and transitions.
  • Practice: Exercises that involve quiet reading, reflection and writing, Write Your Own Case Study Re-play - Groups exchange and solve each others cases.
  • Energizers: Snafooz cube puzzles, chess, Rubik's cube.
  • Debriefing: Debriefing panels.
  • Review Re-cap: Questions with answered embedded in word search puzzle.
  • Application: Application exercises with force fields or flow charts.

This brings us to the end of our 3-part primer about learning styles. There is still a lot more research to be conducted about learning styles but the key takeaway is "one size does not fit all." Find out as much as you can about your audience and present content in a way that will be easy for them to assimilate it.

I'll end with an analogy. People even get to "have it your way" when they order burgers, so at least as much attention should go into catering to their needs when designing learning experiences.

Help yourself to other content delivery methods based on learning styles from my Accelerated Learning Smorgasbord.

Photo Credit: gabrielamadeus, Herrmann Global LLC, 2012

For more food for thought when designing learning strategies, also consult Growing Mismatch Undermining Effectiveness of Conferences and Learning Events, Set-up for Attendee Engagement, and Repairing A Broken Business Meeting Model.

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