Supercharge Your Training by Understanding the Different Learning Styles


Supercharge Your Training by Understanding the Different Learning Styles

I’ve been training people for a long time. It’s rewarding when they get it and incredibly frustrating when they don’t. Some things are in one ear and out the other, and other things seem to make a deep, unwavering connection that changes someone forever. The same message can be received completely differently by each person, and sometimes there seems to be no rhyme or reason on why one method works or doesn’t work.

How a person reacts to a message is far more important to the outcome than the message itself. It took me a while, but eventually, I figured out that the message is just a passenger on the ‘training train’.

Training is such a crucial part of any business. We train our staff on how to do a task, how to interact with a customer, how to be compliant with regulations and how to sell our products effectively. Without effective training, we are weaker than we should be. So why don’t we learn how to train better?

Here’s how to supercharge your training:


The VARK learning styles model was designed by Neil Flemming in 1987 through his work at Lincoln University. Essentially Flemming added to a model that had been used for some time to expand to four clear learning styles: Visual, Auditory, Read/Write and Kinesthetic.

People will engage with all four learning styles but will favour some over others. Incorporating the right mix of learning styles into your training and catering to individuals based on what styles are most effective is crucial to supercharge your message.

  • Visual learning.

Visual learning uses graphs, charts, maps and diagrams. These people take in the information through videos, pictures, flowcharts, underlining and using different colours. Take note of any training documentation you produce to make sure you have clear and simple fonts with lots of white space on the page or screen.

  • Auditory learning.

This person learns through listening. They have skills to listen to someone’s words and create the meaning through audible signals like tone. When meeting someone, this person will say out the person’s name and remember how it sounded to recall it for next time. These learners value discussions and brainstorming sessions where they hear other people’s ideas and explain their ideas to others. They remember the storytelling in your training and rely on the energy you bring to presenting or displaying information. You tell them once, and they will most likely do it. My wife will be the first to tell you this learning style is not my strongest!

  • Read/write.

This person relies on printed text. They read articles like this; they like lists and definitions. They like acronyms and tweetable quotes. They want the opportunity to write their thoughts and feedback down rather than simply discussing so they can get it just right. They’ll write notes in a training session, so factor that in as you move through your information.

These are the practical people. They learn by doing and getting hands on. They engage well with videos of real people doing real things. Give these people examples and case studies and most importantly, time for trial and error. They learn through your experiences and their own so don’t wrap them up in cotton wool until they’re ‘ready’, let them loose in a controlled and accountable way to get the most out of their learning process.

Learn what styles you engage with, and you’ll see how easy it is for you to train people in the way they want to be trained in, catering for different styles. Deliver training online and in person using a mix of all four learning styles. Do this quiz with your team to find out your dominant styles and use the results to supercharge your training messages.

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