How to Make it Stick
After putting so much work into your Red Thread, you want to be sure that your message will stick. The key is to understand how to engage with different learning styles, but probably not the ones you’ve been taught.
While everyone has heard about the differences between visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners, most don’t realize that studies have consistently shown that those categories make little to no difference with learning. Instead, they point to something else entirely: the difference between a Rule Learner and an Example Learner.
Rule Learners are able to see the underlying commonalities between several examples, problems, or case studies. Example Learners, on the other hand, learn by seeing something repeated over and over again. You need to find a way to appeal to both if you want your message to stick, and Tamsen shows you how.
- Make It Stick – The Science of Successful Learning
- All You Need to Know About the “Learning Styles” Myth in Two Minutes
- Learning Styles & the Importance of Critical Self-Reflection
– How do you make a message stick? The answer comes down to learning styles, but probably not the ones you’ve been taught. I’m Tamsen Webster of TamsenWebster.com and that’s what we’re talking about this week on Find the Red Thread.
It makes sense that after you’ve put so much work into your Red Thread, you want to make sure that the message that comes out from it sticks. So what do we do and how do we do it? One of the first things that we have to get past is the fact that we tend to rely on our own preferences when it comes to what we use to illustrate or provide evidence for our ideas. If we like stories, we tell stories. If we like research and data, we use a lot of research and data. And so, we want to make sure that there’s a mixture of what we put out there.
But there’s in fact a deeper problem with defaulting to our own styles, and it comes down to how people learn. Now, you may have been told that there are four learning styles: visual, auditory, reading, and kinesthetic, where people touch and move things. But one thing that you may not know is that’s never been validated. In fact, the opposite has been true. They found over and over again that regardless of how that information is presented, people learn the same. They may prefer to learn by visual or listening or reading or touching and moving but they will learn the same.
So, what’s really going on here? Well, there is one learning style difference that has been validated over and over again. What is it? The difference between what’s called a “rule learner” and what’s called an “example learner.” Now, what’s the difference? Well, rule learners are able to see the underlying commonalities between a couple different examples or problems or case studies. We’re the ones that are able to find what is the through line, the Red Thread, between things. We just kind of see it.
The other is example learners. Example learners are people who learn by seeing something repeated over and over again and they associate those things, we associate those things with stories and case studies and things like that. But what we do is we focus on the stories.
Here’s an important thing for you to understand if you’re a communicator and you’re trying to get your message to stick: about 75% of the population are example learners that don’t see the underlying concept behind a whole bunch of stories that you tell, or a whole bunch of quotes, or a whole bunch of exercises, or whole bunch of data.
So, what does that mean? At the highest level, it means that we need to make sure that we support our biggest concepts in ways that both rule learners and example learners can get what they need. So, what does that mean? Well, it means that for your most important concepts, the concepts in your Red Thread (just as a hint), you want to make sure that you have a rule for every example and an example for every rule.
What do I mean by that? Well, it means that whenever you tell a story, you want to make sure that you tell people what is the meaning of that story for example. If you are somebody who really loves to default to rules and you like a lot of concepts, make sure that for every important rule you put out there that you give people examples and stories so that they can see how it comes to life.
Now, you might have a question in your mind, “Well, how does this actually solve the problem of people learning differently?” And here’s where a really important piece of information comes into play and it’s this: once example learners are taught to see the rule in those examples, they become just as good as rule learners at seeing that rule in other things. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you do both all the time. A rule for every example and an example for every rule.
If you need help finding the Red Thread of your message, go to FindYourRedThread.com and download the free Red Thread worksheet. And if you need any help, contact me at TamsenWebster.com/contact.