There are nine basic processes for taking in information. Let's briefly explore each one to determine the advantages and disadvantages of each.

1. Reading has the advantages of being portable, and to some degree, self-paced. Review and repetition are effortless. Disadvantages include badly-written material and poor reading skills (eyesight, dyslexia, bad habits). Uncontrollable distractions also come into play.

2. Audio, although limited to one sense, has the great advantage these days of being highly portable. Lectures and presentations can be recorded and played back on the go. Recorded material can be listened to as many times as desired.

3. Video adds the dimension of seeing what is being demonstrated or written. Adding sight to the sound is synergistic (value is greater than the sum of its parts). Since it's recorded, it can be viewed as many times as desired. This medium has recently become highly portable.

4. Lecture format is certainly easier than conducting a workshop. The lack of interactivity results in far less understanding and integration. If notes are taken, it is often at the price of not hearing everything being said. If notes are not taken, then review is difficult.

5. Workshop implies interactivity. It may be as complicated as tasking smaller break-out groups and having them present their conclusions or ideas to the larger group. It might be as simple as participants being asked to find a partner and review previously-covered material. The common challenges for a trainer are the logistics (time and environment) and the enthusiasm of the learners.

6. Collaboration is self-directed group activity. Once a group decides on its outcome and goals, and consistently keeps them in mind, then great learning can take place. Best practice is to elect a facilitator to maintain focus. Group size and composition are important factors.

7. Computerized Interactive Learning is ideal for those who thrive on solo work. It is self-paced, multi-media, and resource-rich. The physical drawbacks, if overdone, are myopia and lack of movement causing muscle atrophy. The emotional fallout, if overdone, can be low self-esteem and poor interpersonal skills due to lack of human interaction.

8. Experience is the best teacher. We've all heard that. Well, it can be, but it isn't always so. Often experience is circumstantial, unplanned, and misinterpreted. If it is properly planned, participants in an experiential program can learn and grow faster than any other method. I remember when I experienced my first "Warrior Camp". After five 16-hour days, I had undergone such a shift in thinking and attitude that I will never allow any obstacle get in my way again – for the rest of my life.

9. Hypnotic style learning can be very valuable. These include specific sound (and sometimes video) programs engineered to stimulate and grow the mind. The good ones are expensive, but worth it. Self-hypnosis can be used to reach the learning state, which is relaxed alertness.

As a teacher or trainer -- What to do? What to do?

Your number one responsibility is to impart information and inspire your audience. If you do an info-dump without any inspiration, then no one wins. Can you do both? Of course you can. You aren't fired-up about your subject? Then don't do the talk - If you do, you'll do more harm that good. For them it won't even be neutral. It'll be negative. What's the point in that?

If you had a choice between being inspirational or informative, choose the former. If you turn them on first, then they gladly get the data later.

Right up front, I often advise my audience NOT to take notes. Why do I do that? It is so they pay attention to me, without the burden of note-taking. The same conflict exists when you use pre-talk handouts and slides with bullet-points or text of any kind. The audience will read ahead. And guess what. When they're doing that, they're not listening to you. I use only a flip chart. That way, they are following me at my pace.

How can they review you may ask. That is where follow-up notes and visits to your website come in. At the beginning of the talk, I tell them that my intention is to inspire them. I tell them not to worry about the data, because it'll come later. Then they can review everything to their hearts' content.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Brian Walsh is a clinical hypnotherapist and a specialist in accelerated learning. He helps people in their quest for personal empowerment by promoting brain-friendly strategies using his workshops, videos, teleclasses, books, and his self-hypnosis audio CDs.

He is the author of the bestseller Unleashing Your Brilliance and a contributing author to 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life. His website is