Many people wonder what makes a dynamic business intelligence presentation and what makes others dry and dull. The secret to an effective BI presentation may be found not just in the data selected for the presentation, but the way in which it is presented. The concept of presenting material according to learning styles is a strategy copied from the education sector that can make your BI presentations engaging, innovative, and memorable.
What Are Learning Styles?
According to the theory of learning styles, everyone is born with an innate preference for learning in a particular way. People can be a mixture of learning styles, and in fact, most of us are. The three dominant learning styles, according to educational theorists, including:
- Auditory learners: Auditory learners learn best by listening. They prefer to sit through lectures, talks, and other presentations that lean heavily on the spoken word.
- Visual learners: Visual learners learn by seeing. They like to read materials and presentations, view materials during presentations, and other ‘seeing is believing’ types of formats.
- Kinesthetic or tactile learners: Both kinesthetic and tactile refer to touching, feeling, or doing in order to learn. Kinesthetic learners must perform a task or use the information gained from a presentation in order to feel they’ve learned it. A kinesthetic learner learns best by doing.
The education system is generally geared towards auditory and visual learners, and rarely incorporates tasks for the kinesthetic among us. Consider a university lecture hall. The lecture itself appeals to the auditory learners, while reading the textbook after the lecture appeals to visual learners. The kinesthetic may take copious notes, perform experiments, or actually attempt to use the materials themselves in order to master them.
Applying Learning Styles to Business Intelligence Presentations
Now let’s turn to BI presentations and learning styles. Most presenters gravitate towards a presentation style that they’ve learned from the corporate world. Perhaps they’ve enjoyed a specific talk, or appreciated how a colleague presented materials. They may subconsciously mimic a favorite professor, or use techniques picked up from countless workplace meetings.
To incorporate a balance of presentation styles so that your business intelligence can be easily received and remembered by your audience, here are a few ideas.
- Use plenty of charts, graphs, and diagrams to illustrate your main data points. These will appeal to both the visual and auditory learners.
- Hand out copies of the reports prior to the meeting so that visual learners have a chance to read and digest the materials.
- Act out major points using simple props so that your kinesthetic learners will grasp them. For example, ask someone in the audience for a $1 bill, then hand them back a $5 bill to demonstrate that the project obtained a “five times” return over investment.
- Use your slides for visuals, your voice for the narrative, and your actions for emphasis. This hits all the major learning styles in one presentation.
Because most of us went through similar educational systems that lean heavily towards auditory and visual learning methods, nearly everyone has developed the skills to assess visual and auditory information. But if you can hit upon these three styles, your presentations will seem richer and more interesting to everyone because there’s something in it for them. Business intelligence presentations have never been so interesting!