The Number 1 Golden Rule in Presenting

Are you struggling to learn how to present and get your message across? Do you spend hours preparing for a presentation only to find a lack of engagement and participation?

Successful communication is essential, and presenting or communicating to a group becomes even more powerful when everyone in the audience is fully engaged.

One of the most highly regarded frameworks for understanding how people learn and communicate is the 4-MAT model. 4-MAT was developed by Dr Bernice McCarthy, yes developed by a woman, in the late 1970’s and it provides a simple, effective framework that makes it easy to communicate and receive information in a clear and consistent way.

As a presenter, what’s important to understand is the four learning styles that people use and how you can tailor your communication to meet the needs of each style.

4-MAT is a model that addresses each of the learning styles.

So how do you apply this model in your next presentations and communications? Let’s break it down and look at each stage.

1. WHY

This learning style needs to know why before they can begin anything. They want to know why they are in the room and you will need to provide a reason to them to engage them.


This learning style needs the facts in order to get a conceptual understanding. They like to have details, therefore you will need to provide lots of information and facts to deepen their understanding of your message.

3. HOW

This learning style needs to know how things work. They prefer the practical application of ideas and you will need to let them try it out as they like to learn by being hands-on.

4. IF?

This learning style is interested in hidden possibilities and exploring ideas. They need to know what would happen if… You would need to let them teach it to themselves as they learn best from trial and error.

You will have people in each of the four learning styles in your audience. If you start by giving a lot of information for the What group, you will find that the Why people aren’t taking it in because they don’t have a good reason for doing so. Always prepare to cater for each style.

As you develop your knowledge of the learning styles, you will begin to gain an appreciation and understanding of the relationship they have with each other, and the impact this has with audience engagement.

4-MAT can also be used for those unexpected requests for a 10-minute update on that project you’re working on. There’s no need to panic and think “But I haven’t done any preparation?”. Instead, simply ask yourself “How do I structure my update using the 4-MAT model to get my message across to everyone in the group?”

The 4-MAT system is a highly validated tool for everyone who would like to improve their communication and engagement with their audience. I encourage you to apply this tool to your next presentation and I look forward to hearing your feedback.


About Your Guest Blogger: Carla Egan is a professional career coach, trainer and behavioural profiler. Carla combines her coaching skills with her 20-year career experience in inbound contact centre management to assist job seekers, recruiters, small business owners and organisations with their recruitment services and change management requirements.