Learning styles and meetings

One moment where people's learning styles are particularly apparent is during meetings, as the two contrasting meetings in Annie's day in Chapter 1 made clear. Using the Honey and Mumford learning styles, you can see how the different types might react:

♦ Activists are the last to settle down at the start of a meeting. They want to brainstorm everything and are always reluctant to read any papers that have been tabled, preferring to talk about the practical issues being raised. When issues of long-term management are being discussed their eyes glaze over. They are often to be seen talking to their neighbor unless the meeting is being firmly chaired.

♦ Reflectors may often seem not to be fully engaged. They are reluctant ever to come to an agreement there and then, preferring to ask for time to think it through. They will enjoy tabling papers with new research or data to discuss. They find it difficult when urgent and unexpected decisions are needed at the meeting. They will tend to see new propositions from all angles and be reluctant to settle immediately on one course of action.

♦ Theorists can also be slow to settle. They are likely to be talking about structures and ideas that have interested them but may or may not be relevant to the meeting in hand. The theorists will want to challenge the basic assumptions underpinning any proposed course of action. They will not want to agree unless they can see how what is being proposed fits with their view of the world. Whenever anything is being considered that has a degree of risk, they will want to quantify the uncertainty. They are not comfortable with change until they have seen the new pattern within which it fits.

♦ Pragmatists are likely to be keen to get started. They do not worry when there is not an agenda, being happy to engage in whatever is offered for discussion. They have a tendency to be unpredictable and are likely to apply their latest theory or idea to whatever is being discussed. If they are stimulated by what is being discussed they will be engaged; if not they may be disruptive. They will be still be working on their ideas after it has been agreed what should be done and may well suggest revisions to things that others think have already been agreed.

Add to this what you know about the ways in which your colleagues prefer to take in information, and you will be well prepared.

Think about the best and worst meetings in which you have been involved. Put some people's A names to the different Honey and Mumford types described above. In what other ways or situations are you aware of people's learning styles at work?

10 tips for holding brain-friendly meetings

If you want to get the best out of the minds around a table at any meeting in which you are involved, here are some more ideas:

1 Always give advance notice of the subject of any meeting. Your brain likes to make connections and to "join up the dots." Giving it something to think about in advance means that it will combine and link with existing thought patterns and knowledge to create new ideas.

2 Make sure that meetings have a clear structure. The brain likes to put things in order.

3 Use praise. Finding ways of praising people is likely to increase their self-esteem and create an environment in which people give their ideas. A praise to blame ratio of 4:1 is helpful.

4 Invest time in creating the right emotional state in participants. If your mind is stressed, it will only operate at the basic level it would need for survival. If we are not in a relaxed but alert state, then we will not perform well.

5 Divide the content into smaller chunks. Our brains work better when they can focus on specific elements. It may also be helpful to break things up into smaller elements to aid memory.

6 Use humor. When we laugh our brains release neurotransmitters, chemicals that boost alertness and recall.

7 Use dialog. Our brains thrive on feedback, of which dialog is a constant and immediate source. Telling someone something in a meeting does not mean that it has had any impact on their mind.

8 Specify outcomes and connect to previous and following meetings. The brain's love of connections and its ability to select what is relevant mean that it is a good idea to give it something to work on after the meeting. A mind map may be a better way of recording what happened than are traditional minutes.

9 Watch people's concentration levels. While we all have different concentration spans, having a stretch break regularly means that the brain gets plenty of oxygenated blood, its energy supply. Nevertheless, sometimes, when the brain is really engaged, it may be better to go with the flow.

10 Spend time reflecting on what worked and what didn't. Another important and often missing piece of feedback for the brain involves taking a few moments to talk about how a meeting went and plan to do things differently if it did not go well.

Understanding yourself as a learner—in a nutshell

YOU HAVE LEARNED:

✓ that there are three aspects to your learning style: where you prefer to learn, how you take in information, and how you deal with information

✓ how to hold more brain-friendly meetings

KEY IDEAS Visual, auditory, and kinesthetic, or eyes, ears, and bodies Feelers, thinkers, sensors, and intuitors Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Learning styles

KEY TECHNIQUES/ APPROACHES Using all of your senses

Developing different learning styles

How To Accomplish More In A Fraction Of The Time

How To Accomplish More In A Fraction Of The Time

The pace and intensity of our lives, both at work and at home, leave several of us feeling like a person riding a frantically galloping horse. Our day-to-day incessant busyness too much to do and not enough time; the pressure to produce and check off items on our to-do list by each day’s end seems to decide the direction and quality of our existence for us.

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