Why The Myth of Learning Styles Has Been Busted And What You Need To Know

For years, there has been this concept we’ve all heard about called “learning styles.” Technically, it is called visual, auditory, and kinesthetic (VAK) learning. First, there are visual learners—who absorb information through images. Next, there are auditory learners—who are receptive to speech and sound. Lastly, there are kinesthetic learners— who learn through moving around and touching things.

Despite being an incredibly popular notion, VAK has no evidence to support it as a concept. The latest research asserts that we are all visual learners.

All Audiences Are Visual Learners

In fact, the research actually underscores the significance of visuals combined with sound in creating the best learning environment. Here’s the reason—more than 50 percent of the human brain is dedicated to processing visuals.

Yes, 50 percent for visuals. Not hearing. Not touching. It’s for seeing. There are six different parts of the brain that handle visuals. Engaging audiences on a visual level should not be underestimated.

Does this example slide look familiar?

bad_slide

Most speakers lose their audience three slides into a presentation, as most slide presentations are similar to this example. It’s awful, but it’s the standard blueprint for how most slide decks are created. Due to the fact that 50 percent of the brain is processing visuals, each audience member will sit and read every word of text rather than pay attention to what you’re saying. This interferes with the delivery of your message.

The Power of Simple Visuals

The next example slide simply conveys the first ingredient needed to “make apple pie” in a presentation.

apple slide

The brain quickly understands this visual, which connects with the audience members’ past experiences while still focusing on what they’re hearing. When a strong visual is combined with an oral presentation, retention doubles. Audience members will be able to recall 60 percent of the information compared to only 10 percent with speech only. Can you see how important simple yet memorable visuals are in this context? A six-fold increase!

Not a Designer?

For presenters who are better equipped for inserting bulleted list after bulleted list in their slide shows, rather than seeking out stunning visuals (or who don’t have the artistic sense to discern what a stunning visual is), there’s good news. Storytelling is a beautiful thing. Instead of providing provocative images, you can paint a picture with words. Create visuals in the mind’s eye and build vivid stories into content to support the overall big idea or thesis.

Question

What presentations have you seen with visually stimulating slides and what stuck in your mind that helped you recall that information to this very day? How can you replicate those presentations? Share your answer on Twitter or Facebook.