Whether running a seminar, conducting a workshop or pitching to a potential client, connecting with an audience requires a speaker to have clarity of message, confidence in their presentation skills and certainty in their content. However, deeper engagement occurs when the speaker appeals to the different information preferences, sensory modalities and learning styles of the audience.
Based on research and developed by Dr Bernice McCarthy in the late 1970s, the 4MAT model provides an effective structure for engaging an audience based on the following four key learning styles:
While the 4MAT model has most commonly been used as a framework in training and teaching scenarios, it is also a useful structure for communicating in a variety of other situations such as presenting an idea, facilitating a brainstorming session or delivering a keynote address.
Below is a brief overview of how to appeal to each of the four learning styles.
The ‘why’ frame establishes the purpose of the communication, the environmental context and why the issue / idea / occasion is important / significant / meaningful / relevant to the audience, community, humanity. To establish the ‘why’, use stories, benefits, quotes, questions, statistics, examples and the like, to create meaning around the topic of focus.
The ‘what’ frame tells the audience what they need to know about the issue / idea / occasion. To establish the ‘what’, provide tangible information such as a formal definition, relevant facts and figures, historical information, case studies and the like, to create concepts and link relationships.
The ‘how’ frame engages the audience to take action or consider how they can use the information and implement their learning outside of the room. To establish the ‘how’, show the steps to be taken, consider options, brainstorm ideas, use hands-on activities, use hypothetical scenarios, identify tools and tactics, and operational procedures, to build skills.
4 What if?
The ‘what if’ frame engages the audience to consider how thinking or acting may need to be refined, adapted, integrated or reinvented to apply the idea to the external world and into the future. To establish the ‘what if’, ask the audience to envision the future with the new information learned, give a call to action, suggest a strategy or plan, speculate a new application or refinement, or share an insight or key learning, to build adaptation.
Like all skills, becoming proficient in presenting to and engaging an audience, requires commitment and practise. And while public speaking remains a top fear of many people, the positive results that can flow from becoming an engaging speaker are well worth the investment of your time and effort.
©Ros Weadman 2017 Ros Weadman is the creator of the Reputation Equation™, founder of Melbourne PR & Marketing Group and author of BRANDcode®, a marketing guide for small business. Connect with Ros on LinkedIn or via www.rosweadman.com