How do people learn?

Martin_ManserWe are pleased to offer you this exclusive interview with Martin Manser, author of the new book, Effective Training in a Week

Q: Tell us about the different learning styles you’ve encountered when training writers or others. 
The main different learning styles I’ve encountered when training 
are the following: 
Visual – those who like to see information in the written word, pictures, videos or diagrams to take it in well 
Auditory – those who learn by listening to information 
Kinaesthetic – those who learn by actively doing things, e.g., by role play or team games 

It can be very useful for you to discern where your own personal preference lies: I am more visual and auditory rather than kinaesthetic. The aim is to challenge your assumption that the way other people learn is the same way that you learn. To be an effective trainer, you  need to be alert to the styles of those you want to train. 

You can discern others’ learning styles from how they respond. These words are indicators, for example: 
Visual: see, look, picture, focus 
Auditory: hear (“I hear what you’re saying”), buzz, rings a bell 
Kinaesthetic: feel, concrete, get to grips with, contact 

Q: Why is it important to weigh learning styles when training your colleagues? 
People learn in different ways. We tend to think that they all learn in the same way that we do. Our way is often simply word-based.

I was leading a course a few months ago and I noticed that I didn’t seem to be making any headway with one particular participant. I happened to draw a diagram on the flip chart, and the participant responded well. So I started thinking in terms of communicating well to this participant that I should draw stick men or other simple drawings. This worked; the participant found flowcharts very helpful, for example. 

When I am producing a PowerPoint, I make sure that the words are brief but also I select a picture to accompany my words. I am amazed how few trainers do this. When we look at the television news, very often a picture is behind the newscaster. It takes a long time to find a suitable picture, but as we know, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” The picture will probably be remembered more than e.g., alliteration with words. 

Q: How do you alter your training during a course upon discovering different learning styles? 
It is important that during the training you focus not on yourself but on your participants. The temptation is to think that you must get through your material, but that is not your aim. Your aim is for your participants to learn.

For example, I was leading a course a few years ago and my wife was present. She was much more aware of the participants than I was, and she said to me at mid-morning break, “Do something!” In other words, I needed to change my style of teaching so 
that the participants would learn effectively. Someone has said that you need to change your style every 20 minutes. 

I led a course last week and two of the participants came alive during the role-play. We were acting out negotiation and one was acting as a general manager. He had been very quiet up to that point, and suddenly I was amazed that he could speak so well. 

Q: Is there an ideal style of training? 
There is no ideal style of training. You need to adapt to those who you are training. I work on the basis that people will remember more what they say and do themselves than what I say. 

So if I want to teach the need for planning, I could give the participants six points on the importance of planning, but that would not sink in with them. So often I prefer to ask them to work in pairs and then I might choose one participant to come up to the front and to 
write down answers on the flip chart. I can then fill out what they are saying with further points and good and bad examples from my own experience. I round things off by going through my points on a PowerPoint which lists points and has illustrations. We can then 
proceed to do a group exercise on e.g., planning a project to reinforce the points taught by taking an actual case study/example. 

I may get through less material but I think the teaching is more effective as the participants actually learn well. In your preparation, consider a variety of ways of teaching and training. Your participants are not aware that you choose one exercise or one way of teaching in preference to another. 

Effective TrainingMartin Manser will be leading a webinar for MAI on January 13 on the topic, “Communication and Business Skills for Publishers.”

Check out Martin’s new book, Effective Training in a Week (Hodder Education; McGraw Hill). He has compiled or edited over 200 reference books on the English language, Bible reference and business skills. Martin is an English-language specialist and teaches English to business colleagues. He is an MAI-Europe Trustee.

Authors: Promote Your Book on a Low Budget

Author Jennifer Karina of Kenya shares tips on how she’s learned to spread the Jennie karina headshotmessages in her books. Learn more from Jennifer in our upcoming webinar with Pusonnam Yiri of Nigeria, “Author Promotion on a Low Budget,” August 19. Register online now. 

Think of book promotion as storytelling. The story you are telling is why you wrote your book, how it can help the readers, and how the world will benefit from your book. Ensure that it is well priced, written and edited.

If you can develop a positive attitude about book promotion, people will pick up on it and tune in immediately. I have taken advantage of every opportunity to tell my story and promote my own book. When I introduce myself, I always let people know I am the author of Marriage Built to Last. Churches and bookshops have been willing to let me sit for a day, meet and greet their customers, and talk about my book. This has been powerful. Customers were happy to have an autographed copy as we engaged with them.

Effective promotion stems from the author’s passion. What is your message? Do you own it, believe it and most importantly live it? Whatever your topic you have to model the principles that you share. My message is clear–it’s about building a marriage that lasts. I personally have been married for 36 years and have adult children who are now married. I’m enjoying my 5 grandchildren. When I speak on the topic, I am an authority because I have lived it and exceptionally well.

Learn more from Jennifer in our upcoming webinar with Pusonnam Yiri of Nigeria, “Author Promotion on a Low Budget,” August 19. Register online now.
Check out the schedule of other upcoming webinars.

Dare I? Of course, I don’t!

By Joan CampbellBack cover Joan Campbell

Fear has many facets, and recently I discovered an unexpected one, which has taken a sneaky hold of my life. I’m not quite sure how to shake it, but naming it may be a good start, so here goes.

Not too long ago, I was reading an article on the psychology of procrastination. I should have been writing a blog, re-writing some edits, or collating my short-story collection, but no— I was reading articles about procrastination. It’s something I’ve been struggling with the last few weeks. I don’t feel like writing blogs. I don’t feel like composing tweets. I don’t feel like…well you get the picture!

Procrastination, the article asserts, is rooted in fear. This fear has two sides. Firstly, there is the fear of failure. Before we start something, we think of all the things that could go wrong. We want to do things so perfectly, that the thought of trying and failing makes us too anxious to start. I could relate to this, but it wasn’t a big surprise to me.

However, the second fear the article mentions, was very surprising. It was the fear of success. “For some the fear of success is a real trauma. If they succeed, they may feel exposed and people may expect more from them in the future, leading them to wonder: what if I can’t always deliver?”

It all made sense. My stretch of writer’s block follows from a small, but significant breakthrough in the publishing process. Being slightly closer to my dream of finding a publisher sent me into—what I now understand was—a slight tail spin. How strange that something I want with all my heart is also something I fear.

Once again, I am like Peter walking on the waves. All is wonderful until I think, “I shouldn’t be here—this isn’t going to end well.” Instead of looking at the One who made the wave walking possible, I start to look at the waves. Faith gives way to fear. Success ends in sinking. And I hear Jesus whispering, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

Madeleine L’Engle talks about the courage we require. To create. To love. To live.

“In moments of decision, we are to try to make what seems to be the most loving, the most creative decision. We are not to play safe, to draw back out of fear. We are to…fall through the window, journey through the looking glass, return to the imaginative courage of the child. Dare I? Of course I don’t. But I’m going to anyhow because I have no choice.” (L’Engle, Walking on Water)

So, I named it, and you may have noticed that you are reading the first blog in close to a month, which means I might just be shaking it too! No more procrastination. No more holding back. I am moving ahead, fear or no fear!

What is holding you back?

Encounters CoverJoan Campbell lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, with her husband and two teenage daughters. Her first book, Encounters, is due to be released later this year. She is currently writing a young adult fantasy trilogy and devotionals for various publications, including Scripture Union and The Upper Room. She is a trainer for MAI in South Africa.


Ideas to Promote Your Own Books: Interview with Nigerian author Pusonnam Yiri

Nigerian author Pusonnam Yiri discusses his journey as a writer and Pusonnam Yirihow authors can promote their own books in this interview with MAI staff intern Nicki Consoli. Pusonnam and Kenyan author Jennifer Karina will share valuable tips in our August 19 webinar, “Author Promotion on a Low Budget.” Register online now.

Q: What factors led you to become a writer?
While I was in seminary, a few ministers who loved my illustrations in preaching/speaking asked me to document them. I wrote my first published book mostly to meet that need.

Many of our elders are dying with their values undocumented. I don’t want that to happen in my time. If we don’t write good books now, many of the books our children read will be written by false ministers. When Jesus was tempted by Satan, He referred to a written document. Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone” (Luke 4:4 NIV). Our children should be able to say, it is written when they face temptations.

Q: Why did you decide to publish your own books?
I did not have a structured reason when I started. I only wanted my books to reach an audience. Later, as I began to train writers, I discovered the need for a publishing platform for my books and other potential writers. Recently, ACTS, a major publisher in Nigeria, accepted my books for publishing and distribution. This will take the books to another level.

Q: What are the best ways to promote your own books?
I have an approach that I call the “Triple P Concept”: Promote the book through the stages of Pre-Production, Production and Post-Production. People should know about a potential book even before it is released.

A lasting, effective promotion is achieved only when a book is good. A book that is a solution to the problem of the target audience will be promoted by its beneficiaries. I often say, “If a book is a drug, there are patients who will need it.”

Every writer should be a thematic writer so that he or she will become an expert in his or her subject area. This will eventually lead to speaking. A speaking platform is a very good channel for promotion.

Q: How have you seen God’s providence in your promotion efforts?
A literature professor in a secular university in Nigeria used my book, Blindness of the Mind, as a textbook with his students. He told me that two of his students received Jesus as Lord as a result of the book.

Q: How does your newest book, Understanding Purpose: Everyone has a role in God’s masterplan, speak to the needs of people in Nigeria?
Many people are frustrated for two main reasons: Some don’t know what to do in life, while others have discovered what to do, but they don’t know how to do it. The book helps people overcome frustration by understanding the purpose of life and how to achieve it. People will know that no one is useless in God’s master plan.

Q: What advice would you offer writers regarding promoting their books?
When you send someone to somewhere with a message, it is your responsibility to sponsor the trip. Similarly, God will support any message that is from Him. A writer should first of all ensure that God is the Sender.

Pusonnam Yiri and Kenyan author Jennifer Karina will share valuable tips in our August 19 webinar, “Author Promotion on a Low Budget.” Register online now.

Email Pusonnam at [email protected]

Proven Ideas for Generating Book Sales

By Ramon Rocha, director of publisher development

Are you wondering how to improve books sales? You’re not alone! Take heart and glean ramon rochainspiration from these ideas generated by publishers around the globe.

  1. Publish Christian fiction for public schools.
    Step Publishers in Ghana has published compelling fiction books with Christian themes for young people and has submitted them to the Ministry of Education for inclusion in the school curriculum. These titles were approved not only by the Education Ministry but by Senior High Schools, the Non-Formal Education Ministry, and the Ghana Book Trust. Step Publishers has been selling Grief Child written by Lawrence Darmani, and his other youth fiction titles, by the tens of thousands. Lawrence is now working to have his books approved for school curriculum in other African countries.
  2. Publish more local authors than translations.
    VISI Publishing in Indonesia has shifted its publishing program from translating Western books to publishing local Indonesian authors. Their total sales have grown in double digits over the last 3 years.
  3. Use ‘out-of-the-box’ distribution.
    Mundo Cristao in Brazil has sold thousands and thousands of books through the Avon catalogue. Now housewives and mothers order Christian books in addition to make-up, perfume and brassieres.
  4. Distribute through general bookstores.
    Kanok Bannasan accepted the terms of general bookstores in Thailand, thus paving the way for their titles to be displayed in 300-plus stores nationwide. Sales of their books through the general market have increased over the last year.
  5. Source printing elsewhere.
    Publishers in Africa are now having their books printed either in China or India. Printing costs have dropped by half the price of local printing, including shipping costs.
  6. Bring your books to your readers.
    Ezdra Publishers, in partnership with Bus4Life ministry of Operation Mobilization, travels around the Ukraine to sell books. Owner Andrey Kravchenko says, “Every year we go around the Ukraine several times, visiting hundreds of towns and churches, to deliver and sell our books. This is a great opportunity to meet with our readers, to learn their opinion about our publications, and to know their wishes.”

What other strategies are working for you? Share with us.

MAI provides training for global Christian publishers with two goals:  1) to help them become financially self-sustaining and 2) to encourage them to find and publish more local authors.