Conference and Team Building Tips: Catering to Diverse Learning Styles

practiceA "one size fits all" approach to learning is guaranteed to ensure ineffective results. Adults are predominantly visual or kinesthetic learners but keynotes, lectures and presentations still dominate content delivery formats at conferences and other events that involve learning.

It is important to use a variety of content delivery methods to improve the design of conferences, workshops, team building, and training. There are a number of models for understanding learning styles including Kolb's model, Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences and Ned Herrmann's Brain Dominance Model (HBDI). 

Most approaches incorporate a distinction between left-brain and right-brain approaches to learning. They incorporate this basic breakdown that clusters learners as primarily:

  • Visual learners who are imaginative and require visual stimulation in order to process information
  • Kinesthetic learners who respond to emotional cues and require tactile stimulation and active participation in the learning process
  • Auditory learners who benefit from content delivery methods that involve listening.
  • Structured learners who are organized and detail oriented in their approach to learning

The bottom line is that we all learn using visual, kinesthetic and auditory cues to assimilate information during the learning process but most learners tend to dominate in one or more preferred styles.

The HBDI Whole Brain Model breaks down the basic left brain/right brain model further into brain quadrants (upper left, lower left, upper right, lower right). The quadrants that are dominant influence thinking, communication and learning style preferences.

HBDI Whole Brain Model

Picture it this way. Brain dominance and learning style preferences are similar to the preference for writing with the left or right hand. Everyone can write with either hand but most people are right- or left-hand dominant. They write more easily and legibly with their dominant hand. In the same way, we make it easier and more comfortable for people to learn when we cater to their preferred learning styles.

To incorporate learning styles into your design of meetings, conferences, team building,and  training, distribute learning style surveys to participants as part of the registration process. Learning styles surveys including DISC, LSI, Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences Tests, and HBDI pinpoint preferred learning styles. Here is an example using the HBDI. Notice each section is presented in a format that appeals to the specific learning style.

You can use the results of the learning styles survey to provide facilitators with a group profile so they can tailor their content and approach to delivery to meet the needs of the group.

We'll continue our discussion with part 2 focusing on content delivery methods that are appropriate for learners who are primarily left brain oriented (kinesthetic and visual Learners). Part 3 will focus on analytical and structured learners. We'll use HBDI color references so do take time to read the overview.

Photo Credits: Executive Oasis International, Herrmann Global LLC, 2012

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

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