The 2 most important tips for making your training accessible & inclusive

This summer I got to hang with Sara Mitaru (pictured above), a United Nations designated Messenger of Truth, while we were both at a conference in Istanbul, Turkey.   Sara’s a tiny, power packed artist who sings about effecting social change.  I spent some time in the recording studio where she was practicing for a gig with her band.  They’d been there all day by the time I arrived.

I was blown away by how the musicians, the other singers and herself communicated.  It was all verbal.  Notes for this song, when to come in on that song, the tempo of this, the pitch of that, were all communicated via voice.  Not a thing was written down.

Why did this rock my trainer’s brain?  Read on.  It has to do with the 2 most important tips for making your training accessible & inclusive.

What’s your preferred way of taking in information when learning something new?  Don’t know?  Then imagine you’ve got a new techno gadget that you don’t have a clue how to use.  What’s your first response?

a) ask someone to explain it to you

b) poke around & press buttons until you figure it out

c) read the instruction manual

This is a quick & dirty guide to how your brain processes information. Your answer is critical to how accessible & inclusive your training is (or isn’t).

If your first choice was ‘a’ you’re likely an audio learner; you process information by hearing it (both hearing yourself and others speak).  If your choice was ‘b’ you’re likely a kinesthetic learner – you learn by doing.  And if you answered ‘c’ you’re probably a visual learner – you learn by seeing things (pictures, graphs, charts, text etc.)

How does your answer to the above affect your training & development?  Trainers often create training content based on their own dominant learning style. I see this over & over with people I teach how to teach.

If you’re kinesthetic, it’s likely that you won’t lecture for 3 hours but rather you’ll have your participants up & moving around a lot.  If you’re audio you’ll probably talk a lot & encourage your participants to talk.  Visual means you’re most likely a whiz at powerpoint slides, flipcharts and handouts.  Design will be important to you- how stuff looks will be your priority.

During one workshop I taught, after explaining visual learners, a woman stood up & said “that’s what those damn flipcharts are for, I never could fathom why people would ever use them.” A visual learner she was not.

What’s the problem with teaching to your own learning style?  Nothing …. if you have a class of learners exactly like you.  In today’s diverse classes you can bet your last P&B sandwich that you’ll have a mix.

Which means you’ve got to mix it up.  In order for your training content to be accessible & inclusive examine it to see if there’s a bias – a slant to one way of learning.

Go ahead.  Check your next training workshop content to see if you’ve got an even mix between audio, kinesthetic & visual.  Let me know how it goes.

To make your training more accessible & inclusive:

  1. know your own learning style, as it will most likely influence how you teach
  2. examine your training content to make sure it includes techniques that will appeal to ALL the learning styles

If you want to know more about your own learning style check out this self-assessment.

So, can you guess why it blew me away that Sara nor anyone else wrote anything down?  It’s because I’m not an audio learner and they obviously were.  As they’re musicians this makes sense because they make their way through life with sound.

P.S. I’m happy to report that the baby bump you see in the photo above is now lovely little Maya.  That’s proud poppa David Muthami in the background.


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