Adapting Communication Styles for Audiences

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One of the most basic and effective strategies trainers can employ in physical or virtual classrooms is to adapt their delivery method or communication style to accommodate the various learning styles in the audience. Doing so increases the chance the audience will fully absorb the message and practice what is taught.



Virtual classrooms require specialized trainer communication techniques, so this article will focus on physical, instructor-led training considerations.



First, get an understanding of the different learning styles. This knowledge will help you analyze and better communicate with your audience. There are a variety of theories regarding learning styles or the way people perceive and process information, but most prescribe at least partially to educational theorist David A. Kolb’s take on experiential learning.



The four basic learner types based on Kolb’s Learning Style Inventory are accommodators, divergers, assimilators and convergers.



·                     Accommodators easily adapt knowledge learned to new situations. One of an accomodator’s favorite questions might be, “What if?”


·                     Divergers view an idea or fact from multiple, divergent perspectives. Thus, they are often great at brainstorming.


·                     Assimilators easily and holistically integrate knowledge from multiple pieces of information. They value logic and order, and they often want just the facts.


·                     Convergers like to make quick decisions or to come to one right answer. They value common sense and want to know, “How does this work, or how can I use it?”



If that’s too complicated, there is the more standard classification that people learn in three ways:



1.                    Visual (They need to “see” what they’re learning)


2.                    Auditory (They need to “hear” the information and facts)


3.                    Kinesthetic (They need hands-on training to learn by doing. This might include taking notes or writing down the important parts or steps of a task.)



Next, consider the best delivery method or approach for the intended message. It’s tough to get around the fact that learners with different learning styles often frustrate one another in group learning or work situations. Therefore, a trainer might want to consider not just how different learning styles complement and antagonize one another but what delivery style or styles will best suit the intended lesson or message.



Ultimately, the training message is the most important consideration. What is the go

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