Adults are seeking additional education and training to advance their careers. However, that learning may not happen in a traditional classroom. Research suggests professionals prefer attending conferences and events, but they want to do more than sit and listen. In this series, we’ll explore how to design an event experience or presentation that engages your audience’s diverse learning styles.
First up? The prep-work.
Planning to Engage Different Learning Styles
Professional learners want to practice new skills and meet new people. For this crowd, the climax of your event is practice, not the presentation. So, as you plan your conference content, consider incorporating learning cycles into your strategy. Learning cycles are based off the theory that people learn best through experiences. Learning goes deep when people have space to test out new ideas, reflect, and connect with others. Because learning cycles are built on experiences with intermittent reflection and collaboration, they reach a larger range of learning styles. They are especially helpful for physical, solitary, and social learners.
Building your conference agenda in learning cycles will help you keep your audience’s attention and boost retention rates. But they’re not only effective, they’re relatively easy to design.
What Skills Do You Want to Share?
Your guests are coming to learn something tangible, something they can take back to their professions to improve their performance and expand their capabilities. What are the concrete skills you want your audience to develop? Determine these early on and build your experiences around them.
What Activities Will Help Them Practice?
You want your audience to apply skills not just recall information. Design activities that get them moving, thinking critically, and responding to problems in real time. After the activity, how will you give them space to reflect individually and then draw conclusions as a group?
What Production Assistance Will You Need to Make It Happen?
Will your audience need to get their hands on actual gear or will you use virtual reality to imitate scenarios? Will you need to add a gamification component to your event app that audiences can play during your presentation? How will graphic design or video production enhance the experience? Consider your production needs early on to prepare properly and work closely with your crew to make it happen.
For example, we recently helped a client produce a pitch competition similar to “Shark Tank” as part of a day-long event for their sales staff. Working with our client, we developed an experience that appealed to diverse learning styles by mimicking the TV show’s look and feel, including video introductions for their “Sharks” and staff members pitching their ideas live onstage. We also incorporated an audience participation element with voting for the best ideas through the event’s app. Ultimately, we were able to produce a successful event for our client, but it took time, expertise, and a good amount of pre-event coordination.
Planning and preparation are just the beginning. In our next blog posts, we’ll discuss presentation design and post-event strategies for various learning styles.