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Understanding Learning Styles

Discovering the learning style(s) of staff you train and/or manage can be incredibly useful when tailoring coaching or feedback to an individual, and will improve the impact of your interactions.

Want to test your learning style or have trainees test before you begin training? Click HERE.

Discovering and exploring individuals learning style(s) will reveal ways they can adapt their behaviours to take advantage of this knowledge, whilst at the same time providing managers, coaches and trainers with information about their staff that can help drive more positive interactions.

There are four main learning styles.


Visual learners like to look at what they are being taught and normally accompany their notes with doodles, underlining, highlighting and other visual aids to support their learning

Visual learners respond best to

  • Pictures, videos, posters, slides

  • Flowcharts

  • Underlining, different colours, highlighters

  • Textbooks with diagrams and pictures

  • Graphs

  • Symbols and white space

When studying or taking in information you may want to try

  • Using any of the techniques above (if possible)

  • Reconstruct the images in different ways: try different spatial arrangements.

  • Redraw your pages from memory

  • Replace words with symbols or initials

Presenting guide

Draw images onto a flipchart and/or highlight key phrases in different colours.

Add symbols to each heading and perhaps a large image as a title. (This can be pre-prepared)



Often Auditory learners can look like they aren’t paying attention, but in fact are actively listening, meaning their notes don’t need to be as comprehensive. They will often be the first to discuss topics as this helps them retain information.

Auditory learners respond best to

  • Discussions and tutorials

  • Discussing topics with others

  • Discussing topics with Coaches

  • Explaining new ideas to other people

  • Remembering the interesting examples, stories, jokes…

  • Describing the concepts, content and other visuals to somebody who was not there

When studying or taking in information you may want to try

  • Expanding your notes by talking with others and collecting notes from the textbook.

  • Ask others to ‘hear’ your understanding of a topic.

  • Read your summarised notes aloud.

  • Explain your notes to another ‘aural’ person.

Presenting guide

Work through each entry by stating the above and then asking, “what does that mean to you?”

Encourage a discussion around each point and engage the delegates.



Read-Write learners are the list makers. They will often have to do lists, up to date calendars and written plans of action.

Read-Write learners respond best to

  • Lists

  • Headings

  • Glossaries

  • Definitions

  • Hand-outs

  • Textbooks

  • Notes (often verbatim)

  • Coaches who use words well and have lots of information as notes

  • Manuals

When studying or taking in information you may want to try

  • Reading your notes (silently) again and again.

  • Rewrite the ideas and principles into other words.

  • Organize any diagrams or graphs into statements

  • Turn diagrams, charts and flows into words.

  • Imagine your lists arranged in multiple choice questions.

Presenting guide

Give staff a typed list, copied from this box, double spaced so that they can add their own annotations. (This can be pre-prepared).



Kinaesthetic means to learn by doing, learners like to be hands on and try things for themselves. Often this means getting things wrong to see what will happen as part of a trial and error process.

Kinaesthetic learners respond best to

  • All senses being engaged – sight, touch, taste, smell, hearing …

  • Coaches who give real-life examples

  • Applications of their learning

  • Hands-on approaches (especially with computing)

  • Trial and error, testing their own work.

When studying or taking in information you may want to try

  • You will remember the real or relatable things that were discussed.

  • Put plenty of examples into your summary. Use case studies and applications to help with principles and abstract concepts.

  • Talk about your notes with another kinaesthetic person.

  • Use pictures and photographs that illustrate an idea.

  • Go back to the manual.

  • Recall the role-plays.

Presenting guide

Have staff produce their own guides on coloured paper with marker pens OR ask staff to create a flip chart sheet as you talk through the material.


Knowing your learning style helps you identify some of the best techniques you can use to help you retain information. Not only that, but if coaches, trainers and managers know this information it can help them to tailor sessions to ensure you get the most out of your development.

It is vitally important to remember that coaching and training is a collaborative process: If you know how you and your colleagues learn best, you should share this information to ensure both you and your manager/ trainer get the most out of the process.

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