Do you ever feel like your marketing communications go unnoticed into an empty void where nobody is listening? Or maybe people have not understood your message? Sometimes it is not what you say, but how you say it.

People have different learning styles which affect how we communicate, so what works for you won’t necessarily work for your audience. When designing your marketing communications, it is useful to consider the different communication preferences of the recipients, which is where Visual, Audio and Kinaesthetic (VAK) theory comes in.

What is VAK?

VAK theory is described by the Chartered Management Institute as an approach to help to identify our communication style and to find others who share it.

Understanding how we communicate allows us to gain an appreciation of how others may perceive us and also helps us to recognise how others prefer to communicate, work and learn, as well as predicting how someone may react in a particular situation.

All five senses are engaged when communicating with others, and we tend to have a particular preference when it comes to sensory communication.  The key ones are:

Visual (sight): People with a preference for visual communication and learning comprehend through their visual systems. They may appear to run movies through their heads when remembering or storing information. When communicating with a visual person, ensure that they see the bigger picture. Visual communicators use words such as look, clear, image and focus.

Auditory (hearing): Auditory communicators learn best through listening and speaking and process information as sounds. Ensure that words and instructions are clear to hear. Auditory communicators use words such as tell, listen, loud and clear, and resonate.

Kinaesthetic (feeling): Kinaesthetic communicators learn through touching, doing and the tactile sense. When recalling experiences, they do so by remembering bodily sensations. People with a preference for this communication style like to see examples, or be taken through a process step-by-step. Kinaesthetic communicators use words such as grasp, make contact, catch on, and firm foundation.

Finally, there is also Olfactory (smell) and Gustatory (taste).

The extent to which we can take these into account will depend on the number of recipients and how well we know them and their style. For example, creating a pitch for a new project to an existing client who you know well gives ample opportunity to design the messaging specific to their preferences.

More information about VAK and ideas on checking communication preferences can be found in this article entitled Business Owners: Communicate Clearly with VAK (Visual Auditory Kinesthetic) by Business Growth Leaders.

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