Let's face it -- communication is difficult.
It doesn't matter who you are, where you're from, or what you do -- getting your point across in the way you intend is one of the hardest things to do in business. Whether you're putting together a website, a presentation, or just having a conversation, knowing how to craft your message in the most effective manner can mean the difference between rousing success and terrible failure.
When I'm acting as a public speaker, I have the benefit of getting instant feedback from the audience when my message isn't getting through. As a CTO, I have to wait months (and sometimes years) to receive feedback on a product. This makes things costly and difficult to change, so I need to get it right the first time.
It should come as no surprise that we all have different ways to communicate with each other. Whether it is the language we use, the tone of voice, or our body language, we're all doing different things to convey our message. According to popular psychology, there's something else that we can use to gain an edge.
People generally fall into certain categories for how they learn and process new information. When delivering information to another person, it is important to understand the style of your subject so that they will fully understand the topic presented to them.
Whether creating your latest presentation, designing a social media campaign or creating your product, here are the four types and how to address them:
Visual learners prefer the use of images, graphics, maps, charts and other visual devices in order to understand things. Body language is important, as well as the beauty and aesthetics of the medium used to display the message.
To communicate properly with a visual learner, ensure that you either have something for them to physically look at, or give them enough details to create a mental visualization.
A perfect example of this is Mattermark's pitch deck, which includes a combination of charts and images in an aesthetically pleasing way.
Aural learners are at their best when they can listen to someone talking, participate in a group discussion or have otherwise spoken verbal interaction. They will use spoken repetition and memorization as well as mnemonics in order to remember key bits of information.
As aural learners remember the things that they have heard, you will want to ensure they have a way to actively listen to your message. In addition to face-to-face meetings or phone calls, you can utilize videos, podcasts, participatory webinars, and meet-ups to help lock in your message.
Tony Robbins is a master at this, offering a range of podcasts, videos, webcasts and audio recordings as part of his courses.
Read/Write learners are best served through words. They often take a huge amount of notes to translate complex or abstract ideas into more easily understood ones -- usually in the form of essays, articles, etc. They tend to shun graphics and video as a distraction and may struggle with parsing information from aural and visual sources.
To capture the attention of read-write learners, provide as much data as you have in its raw form, then stand back to allow them to consume it.
While the internet itself is a great playground for read-write learners, your company can take a page from Wikipedia and offer its own wiki with information tailored to your customers.
Kinesthetic learners are hands-on people. They need to live through a process in order to understand it. They're always looking for ways to act, and to do things -- even to the point of not being able to sit still.
In order to break through the communication barrier with someone kinesthetic, you will need to give them a way to experience for themselves whatever you are trying to convey.
Productivity software company Asana created templates to meet the needs of these learners.
Recent studies show that while people may have a preference for one style, new information is best retained when delivered with a combination of them. By understanding the different types of communication styles, and taking into account the differences in each when crafting your message, you're sure to be understood by anyone.