One of my favourite cartoonists is Gary Larson, because like me he has a bizarre sense of humour.
You may know about the four main personality styles, even if you don’t, the joke still works.
In the first picture you see a man near a table that has a glass half full of water on it. The caption reads, “Glass half empty.”
The second scene is the same – only this time the caption reads, “Glass half full.”
(Obviously Gary is portraying a negativity biased person against a positively biased person.)
The third scene is the same only the caption reads, “Glass half-full, glass half empty, what was the question again?”
And the fourth and final scene the man in it is a slob and the caption reads, “Hey, I ordered a cheeseburger!”
The four learning styles.
Why learners are usually the sales oriented type and enjoys talking with people.
How learners are typically the “thinkers” and like the science and theory.
The how learner is the practical doer.
The “what if” learner is the big picture guy or gal and is usually the visionary.
The four learning styles ask these questions.
Why (What’s in it for me?)
What (Where’s your proof?)
How. (Give me instructions!)
What if. (What’s my future going to be like now?)
Before we go any further, see which of these four resonate with you.
To help you to really get this, I’ll delve deeper into each one.
The Why learner.
The question they ask is, “Why should I learn this?”
These people need to be motivated to read on.
Watch the first 4 minutes of “Molly’s Game” and you’ll see how the screenwriter answered the ‘why’ question.
If you really want a test, try not to watch the rest of the movie.
Bet you can’t.
The trick here is to use anticipation.
Set up questions in the beginning and say you’ll answer them later.
Creating cliff hangers like this draws the ‘Why’ learner into your content.
The ‘What’ learner.
They want to know the science behind what you’re saying.
“Just the facts Ma’am.”
Tell them how you came to your conclusions.
The ‘How’ learner.
Be careful with this one.
If you’re business offers coaching, mentoring, consulting, or any type of information do this.
Use what we call “The illusion of knowledge.”
Give them a quick win.
Something that solves a smaller problem within the larger problem.
Then allude to how working with you completely solves their main problem.
And only when they become a client will you give them the step-by-step or the recipe for permanently solving their problem.
The “What if’ learner.
Show these people what their life will be like once they take your advice, buy your product, or engage your services.
Use the magic phrase, “Picture this…”
If you only “talk” to one of these learning types, (usually the type you are) you’ll turn off the other three types.
Connecting Through Content.
You must start out by convincing the “why” learner to be motivated to keep reading.
Then you appeal to the “What” learner. You show how you came to the conclusions they are just about to read about.
Next is the “How” leaner. The teaching part. You show your process (the milestone in your readers journey) in enough detail so they can grasp what it is you’re teaching them.
Lastly, you appeal to the “what if” learner by showing them what their life will be like when they’ve implemented this part of your overall process.
Many of the best-selling self-help and business books are based on this framework for each chapter.
Let me reiterate this last point, simply because it’s so important:
Many of the best selling non-fiction books use the “Why – What – How – What if” formula when writing their book.
What’s more, the order is the most impostant.
Put these four learning styles out of sequence and you’ll confuse your readers.
Here’s what I suggest you do next:
Reread this article and organise your thoughts to match the four learning styles.
So go ahead and get started right now, because the next time you write you will get a better response, more engagement and a ‘buy in’ to your way of thinking.
You can thank me later.