Gift of the gab drives educational speaker

LESSONS LEARNT: Motivational speaker Karen Boyes of Lower Hutt started out as a teacher.
LESSONS LEARNT: Motivational speaker Karen Boyes of Lower Hutt started out as a teacher.

Lower Hutt motivational speaker Karen Boyes says she has always been a talker.

The author, presenter, publisher and owner of Spectrum Education has been sharing knowledge about how to learn better and become more successful for almost 20 years.

"My school report cards used to say I talked too much - now I get paid for it," Boyes said.

"I was a teacher originally, and have always been passionate about children and education.

"After teaching for a few years I was frustrated because I realised teachers were taught what to teach but not how children learn."

In the early 1990s Boyes had a class of 6-year-olds - 27 boys and nine girls - when she started becoming interested in finding out more about how children learn, absorb and retain information differently.

She researched different learning techniques and employed a business coach, then in 1994 ran her first seminar for teachers.

The free presentation to more than 300 peers was her first time on a stage or using a lapel microphone.

Boyes sold more than half the audience passes to a full weekend conference she was running.

In late 1999 she met author Art Costa, who she calls a mentor, and studied his 16 Habits Of Mind which she now teaches to others around the world.

The Habits Of Mind techniques for thinking are described as knowing how to behave intelligently when you don't know the answer.

Boyes runs four-day Habits Of Mind bootcamps.

She explained the habits were the same no matter who you are: things like being persistent, sticking to a task until it is finished, being able to think flexibly.

"It's really about when you're stuck trying to solve problems, what do you do?

"Some give up but successful people have strategies in place to look from another perspective.

"Being creative and innovative, particularly in the 21st century, is so important."

To diversify the business, Boyes also publishes a magazine with the same name as her education conference Teachers Matter, sold in five countries.

There are conferences coming up in Sydney, Wellington and Hamilton in the new year.

She also teaches learning methods to students, showing them how to study for exams, and also shows parents how to help their children learn.

Spectrum Education recently launched a mobile phone app, iStudyAlarm, that beeps to tell students when to take a five-minute break and when to concentrate for a 20-minute interval with the theory "studying is suppose to get you ahead in life, not make you a nervous wreck".

Presenting in an education context takes up about 80 per cent of Boyes' work but she is moving more into speaking to entrepreneurs. She presents to the MBA programme at Victoria University, and has been hired by Mobil Oil, Chapman Tripp and others to teach them about topics including learning on the job and communication styles.

In recent years she has pared back staff numbers but improved profitability by cutting costs and making the most of technology, delivering webinars and online courses that cut down on travel costs for her presenting in person.



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