I am an analyst and a certified Les Mills group fitness instructor for BodyPump (weight training), RPM (indoor cycling), BodyCombat (mixed martial arts based group fitness) and BodyJam (dance based group fitness.)
While analyst and group fitness instructor seem very different, there’s actually a lot that analysts can learn from instructors.
When we are trained as instructors, we spend a lot of time thinking about how different people learn, and how to teach to all of them.
Visual learners need to see it to understand. In group fitness, these participants need you to demonstrate a move, not explain it. In analytics, this may mean visually displaying data, using diagrams, graphs and flow charts instead of data tables – and perhaps even hitting up the whiteboard from time to time.
Auditory learners need to hear it. In group fitness, they rely on verbal cues from the instructor. In analytics, you may have a thousand beautiful visual displays or PowerPoint slides, but it’s your commentary and explanation that will help these people understand.
Kinesthetic learners need to feel it to understand, to experience what you’re talking about. In group fitness, you can show them and tell them, but what they need is to feel the difference between “the right way” and “the wrong way” (for example, “Oh, now I can feel how muscle x engages when I turn my heel!”) This is the same group that tend to need repetition to perfect what they’re doing. In analytics, these are often the people that need to be led through your logic. It’s not enough to show them your findings, and to display the final results. They need to see the steps along the way that you used to answer your questions.
Now here’s where it gets trickier. When you are presenting to a group, they won’t all be the same type of learner. Which means that a good group fitness instructor and a good analyst needs to explain the same thing in different ways to ensure that everyone understands. For an analyst, this may mean using visual displays of information on your slides, talking through the explanation, and giving a step-by-step example to put everyone on the same page.
Keep in mind that you too have your own learning style. Your analysis and presentation style will likely match your learning style. (If you are a visual learner, a visual presentation will come easy to you.) It may take a more conscious effort to make sure you incorporate the learning styles you do not share. However, by tailoring your message to ensure you hit all learning styles, you stand the best chance of getting everyone to the same understanding.
Excellent post! This is so true – especially the bit about when you’re the one who’s presenting and avoiding bias to your own style.
Also, I suppose that you’re not necessarily always the same type of learner; for example I tend to be a visual learner, and I find diagrams more helpful for theoretical discussions. But for more practical things, I think I’m more of a kinesthetic learner (for example at the gym, I need to actually do something to get the technique right). I suppose this highlights the point that for a good presentation you need to cover all the bases.