What Analysts Can Learn About Presentation From Group Fitness Instructors
In my (vast amounts of) free time, I am a Les Mills group fitness instructor for BodyPump (weight training), RPM (indoor cycling) and CXWORX (functional core training.) While analytics and group fitness might seem very different, there are some surprising similarities between teaching a group fitness class, and presenting on analytics. Both involve sharing complicated information (exercise science, digital data) and trying to make this accessible and easily understood.
When we are trained as instructors, part of our training involves education on how different people learn, and how to teach to all of them. This is directly applicable to analytics!
There are three types of learners:
Visual learners need to see it to understand.
- In group fitness, these participants need you to demonstrate a move, not explain it. You can talk till you’re blue in the face – it won’t make sense for them until you preview it.
- In analytics, this may mean visually displaying data, using diagrams, graphs and flow charts instead of data tables – and perhaps even hitting up the whiteboard from time to time.
Auditory learners need to hear it to process it.
- In group fitness, they require a verbal explanation of exactly what you’re doing. Visual demonstrations may be lost on them.
- In analytics, these are the people who need to hear your commentary and explanation of the analysis. Their eyes may glaze over at your slide deck, or charts, or reports, but if you talk to them, they can connect with that.
Kinesthetic learners need to feel it to understand, to experience what you’re talking about.
- In group fitness, they need to be guided in how a move should feel. (For example, a squat is “like you’re reaching your bottom back to sit in a chair, that keeps getting pulled away.”) Analogies work well with this group.
- In analytics, these are the people that need to be led through your logic, or guided through the user’s experience. It’s not enough to show them your findings, and to display the final results. They need a narrative, to walk through the experience, to understand it. (A good example: Have you ever attended a tool or technology training that went in one ear, and out the other, until you actually got some hands-on practice? That’s kinesthetic learning – you need to do it to retain it.)
Note: People are not necessarily 100% one style – they may be visual and kinesthetic, for example.
Now, here’s where it gets trickier. Whether you are teaching a group fitness class, or presenting an analysis, your audience won’t all be the same type of learner.
This means you need to explain the same thing in multiple ways, to ensure that your information resonates with every type of learner. For example, you might:
- Use a graph, flowchart or whiteboard to appeal to your visual learners;
- Talk through the explanation for your auditory learners; and
- Provide a “sample user experience” for your kinesthetic learners. (“Imagine Debbie arrives on our site. She navigates to the Product page, clicks on the Videos button, and encounters Error X.”)
Keep in mind that you too have your own learning style. Your analysis and presentation style will likely lean more towards your personal learning style, because that’s what makes sense to you. (If you are a visual learner, a visual presentation will come easy to you.) Therefore, you need to make a conscious effort to make sure you incorporate the learning styles you do not share.
Review your presentation through the lens of all three learners.
- If you didn’t say a word, could visual learners follow your report/slides to understand your point?
- If you had no slides, could your auditory learners follow you, just from your narrative?
- Does your story (or examples) guide kinesthetic learners well through the problem?
By appealing to all three learning styles, you stand the best chance of your analysis resonating, and driving action.
What do you think? How do you learn best? Leave your thoughts in the comments!
Republished based on a post from October 3, 2010