We all learn in different ways
You will already be aware of this. A teaching method that works wonders on your peers might seem incomprehensible to you.
You may have come across the Honey & Mumford Learner Types – if not, it’s free and takes a few minutes to take. I had the pleasure of interviewing Peter Honey a few years ago when I was researching for The Financial Times Guide to Business Training. Lovely man, although he fell out with Mumford early!
The model identifies your learning preference. Most people have a preference in the way they like to learn – either as an activist, a theorist, a pragmatist, or a reflector. It is essentially a checklist as to how people learn.
Knowing which type you fall under will empower you to learn more effectively throughout your career, and if you are a leader it will give you ideas as to how best to deploy people in a team situation or collaborative project or event.
Which learner type are you?
- Activists are those individuals who learn by doing. Activists need to get their hands dirty. They throw themselves into learning and are great at brainstorming, problem solving, group discussion, competitions and role-play.
- Theorists need to comprehend the hypothesis behind learning activities. They prefer models and ideas and empirical evidence. They like to break down and integrate, drawing new data into a methodical and consistent ‘hypothesis’. They enjoy statistics, stories, concepts and background information.
- Pragmatists want to think about incorporating their learning into present day situations. Experimenting with new ideas and methods to check whether they work. They learn better through taking time to think about how to apply learning in reality, so enjoy case studies, problem solving and discussion.
- Reflectors may abstain from jumping in and prefer to watch from the side lines. They like to gather information and then work towards a suitable conclusion. They like paired discussions, self-analysis questionnaires, personality questionnaires, observing activities and feedback from others.
However, business training doesn’t work
A controversial statement, I know! Let me explain what I mean: knowledge alone isn’t power.
When it comes to becoming an exceptional presenter, knowledge building can only take you so far.
You can receive all the world class training in the world. If it remains theoretical you are not going to magically become an exceptional presenter.
At some point, to improve, you’re going to need to bite the bullet and practise presenting.
Practise in front of an audience.
Practise to a camera and watch the recording back.
Practise through your discomfort
I call this the “edge of discomfort” because it is definitely uncomfortable to do. It’s tempting to put it off indefinitely and tell yourself it’ll be fine on the night. This is what a lot of adults do who give up too early whenever they are learning something new.
Few people like watching themselves back, or inviting candid feedback on their presentations.
And yet, the more you practise (with awareness and feedback), the more you will grow as a presenter.
Practising as a drafting exercise
Even if your only practice audience is yourself, rather than a select gathering of friends or colleagues, doing so will help you perfect your presentation:
- Which parts of the presentation make you stall? What can you do to smooth over that section and make it work?
- Which transitions are rocky?
- Is the presentation cohesive? Or a strange patchwork?
- Are you running over the allocated time? Or racing to the finish too quickly?
Many mistakes aren’t apparent until you practise. I’m sure you’d rather discover them then than during a high-stakes presentation!
Want to find out more about the other 11 Habits of Exceptional Presenters?
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