Whether you are a coach, trainer, teacher, manager or leader, people will process what you say or do in different ways. As much as what you have to convey might be important, it’s even more critical to assess the mindset of the person who is on the receiving end. In other words, an effective learning output is very highly dependent on the degree of engagement of the “learner” in what you have to offer.
So as you embark upon some form of knowledge exchange, remember there are four different types of learners that will have a profound impact on whether anything changes as a result.
- Present but does not listen – they show up but really wish they were somewhere else.
- Listens but does not retain – are sufficiently interested but are too distracted and quickly forget.
- Retains but only to validate – use the information to confirm what they already know or believe, but nothing new is considered.
- Retain and makes changes – embrace new ideas, see opportunities to make things better and act on this.
It is critical, prior to imparting an information, to assess the participants and employ some strategies to get them to the required level of engagement. Some ideas around this might be to vet your audience in advance and prepare accordingly, make it experiential, do some ice breaking exercises and / or finally, assess their objective in being present and weave into your presentation. In the case of something more substantial like a training program, having some accountability via coaching or examination is also very effective.
No matter how good you might be relative to delivery or how substantive the content, if the receptor is not in sufficiently engaged, it can end up being quite a waste of time.