Executive Summary
Believe half of what you see and none of what you hear. Unless, of course, you are an auditory learner.

Visual Learners vs. Auditory Learners

When I went to school, educators assumed that there were only two kinds of learners: good ones and bad ones. We now realize that some students learn more from what they see (visual learners) and other students learn better from what they hear (auditory learners).

Know Yourself

Which kind of learner are you? Your generation is far more aware of learning styles than previous. If you are unsure, you might take this decidedly unscientific (but reasonably accurate) test. Do you generally feel that textbooks are worthless and that course lectures are far more valuable? Or, do you find yourself frequently saying that the professor can't lecture properly and that you had to learn the course material by reading the textbook later?

By the way, the terms "visual" and "auditory" are far too general. Don't imagine that you are one to the complete exclusion of the other. However, you probably have a preference just as surely as you are right- or left-handed.

Within visual, there are several categories. For example, some people learn best from nontextual presentations (art, figures, tables, etc), while some need to see the words.

By the way, there's another class of people who are less attuned to what you say than to how you say it. We'll try to figure out this tough audience later on in the course.

Know Your Audience

Sometimes, you'll deliver a terrific speech to your manager, but she won't really process any of it because she is a visual learner. Conversely, sometimes you'll write a great report but because your manager is so auditory, he won't process it. In fact, the very words that I'm saying right now are worthless to many of you in this room. The trick in one-on-one presentations is to match your presentation to your target's learning style.

We tend to bias our presentations towards our own learning style.

Make Everyone Happy

The best presentations for groups are said to be those that mix visual and auditory cues, thus allowing both kinds of people to learn. Beware though, that many (myself included) find Powerpoint presentations completely worthless. In my opinion,

Powerpoint presentations, in my experience as a corporate trainer, tend to disengage many users.

The Best Solution

We believe that practice is the key to sports, but we teachers somehow believe that just by lecturing, we can teach our students.

Experiential learning almost always works best. Get your audience to do something. Engage your audience. Make your presentation interactive.