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Presenting In A VAKuum

Pinnacle Performance Company   Volume 2 Issue 5

Presenting in a VAKuum
How Learning Styles Can Make You More Effective  

Every presenter has a responsibility to do her best to maximize information retention. This is especially important for those that deal with highly technical material or fill the role of an instructor. Pinnacle graduates know the best way to ensure their audiences remember what's important is to keep them engaged with a strong intention and proficient application of our core building blocks. But what else can one do? What additional methods can a presenter utilize to make the most of time spent in front of an audience?


Educators have known for many years that not all students respond identically to classroom stimuli. While there are many differing theories concerning how people learn, one of the most commonly accepted and frequently cited is VAK (Visual/Auditory/Kinesthetic).


Pioneered in the 1920s and further evolved and adapted by Neil Fleming and others, the VAK distinctions can be a boon for a savvy presenter. VAK proponents hold that each person assimilates and processes information in a preferred manner. Presenters that know their audience can skew their presentations toward a certain learning style. Presenters that regularly deal with new audiences should include a variety of "carriers" for their information.


VAK Breakdown and How to Use the Styles


Visual (preferred by 65% of the population)

As any Pinnacle grad knows, visual components tend to resonate the most with audiences, and the VAK theory supports that conclusion. When in doubt, assume your audience is composed of primarily visual learners.

  • Memory is enhanced by pictures. Use visual aids that feature images instead of text.
  • Prefer to see the whole concept instead of individual parts. Be sure to present the "big picture."
  • Colors tend to leave a lasting impression. Use them strategically.

Auditory (20% of the population)

These people, not surprisingly, tend to be talkative. Books on tape and a healthy appreciation for lectures are the hallmarks of an auditory preference.

  • Memory is enhanced by discussions and open forum debates. Pose questions to these people and solicit their opinions.
  • Need time to reflect and consider. Be certain to include time for review/summary at the end of your presentation.
  • Gains limited benefit from reading. Restrict the amount of supplementary written material you provide.

Kinesthetic (15% of the population)

The toughest to cater to in a corporate environment, kinesthetic learners process information through touch and experimentation. They love to get “hands on” and many enjoy presenting.

  • Memory is enhanced by engaging in activity. Try to include props or other tactile representations of concepts/info.
  • Become bored with traditional presentations quickly. Keep things moving and try not to be predictable.
  • Unconsciously fidgets. This does not necessarily mean you are boring them. They’re bodies are anxious to do something.

The University of South Dakota provides a questionnaire that will assess your own learning style. (

By becoming more aware of how your audience processes information, you can customize your delivery to maximize retention and keep them in the palm of your hand.

Sources available upon request.

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