Are You Talking in a Way that People Understand?

image by Danielle Feliciano – click for info

My eighth grade math teacher hated me. Well maybe not hate, but she didn’t want me in her class, and I admit I gave her good reason.

I would sit in the back row and talk to my friends while she lectured, then read the text-book to figure things out for myself. Usually at the end of class, she would assign homework in the form of ‘finish this exercise’ which I would conveniently forget about. I would refuse to study, and when I sat for a test I would finish very quickly. When she reminded me to check my work before I turned it in, I would pretend to, but really just play around.

I was bored by the way she taught, and as a result I was obnoxious and disruptive.

I can hear all you teachers out there grinding your teeth. End result? An average test score of 95%.

How annoying that must have been to her. I was refusing to do everything she felt was necessary to learn, and I was still doing well. So when she called my parents in to parent teacher interviews, she had trouble giving them a reason for why I should change my study habits. (My parents did give me grief about being disrespectful and talking in class.)

We endured each other for a year, and then the next year I got a different teacher. She watched the class for a while and then gave us new seating assignments. I was seated toward the middle and against the wall. She wouldn’t let me sit next to my best friend anymore either. My new seat mate was almost failing math. She encouraged us to look at the examples in the textbook while she explained new concepts.

Turns out my new teacher had been studying different learning styles. She knew I got nothing out of her lectures, and I learned best by reading and doing. And the very best way for me to cement something in my mind was to explain it to someone else. She cleverly manipulated things so I was less disruptive, more focused, and helping one her weakest students (my new seat mate). She tried to tweak things for everyone else to help them use their strengths, too.

But what does this have to do with your business? Well I have been working toward teaching my craft. I had never actually taken a quilting class; I learned everything from books and online tutorials. So I took an online class to get a perspective.

Watching the video tutorials (which were actually a pretty good explanation of the topic), made me want to turn to the kid sitting next to me and talk about my plans for the weekend. It was just like a lecture in 8th grade math.

I was missing out because the information was presented in a way I that I find difficult to process.

I assume it was made by someone who learned differently from me and had created a lesson for their learning style only. If that online quilting class had included text content that I could browse while I listened, what a difference that would have made.

It got me asking, am I missing out on customers because of the way I communicate my message? Listening while someone explains is a good way for some people to learn and understand. For other people (like me), text with examples gets a message across much more clearly. Of course, it is really a lot more complex than that, but that is the basic idea.

Are you focusing your web content, patterns, tutorials, etc. at people who communicate the same way as yourself? If so, you are missing out on a large chunk of the market who may love what you are offering, if only you showed it to them in a way they understood.

Are you talking to your customers in the way that they understand best?

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