Getting the 4MAT right

The 4MAT System places people into four categories – why, what, how and so-what individuals. It’s a powerful way to think about communication. POLLYANNA LENKIC

Pollyanna Lenkic

By Pollyanna Lenkic

Building on last week’s blog Secrets of Engagement, I want to share another powerful model that will help you to prepare for presentations, pitches or speaking engagements.

It is called the 4MAT System, which was developed by Bernice McCarthy. Combine this system with the information provided in last week’s blog and you are on your way to presenting and communicating more powerfully and generating better results. I certainly wish I had known about this system years ago. 

What is it?

The 4MAT System places individual learning and behavioural patterns into one of four categories:

  • Why people – 35% of the population.
  • What people – 22% of the population.
  • How people – 18% of the population.
  • So-what people – 25% of the population.

Tailor your presentation addressing each of the above styles in the following order:

Why people

Address and engage the Why people first – they need a reason to learn and participate. Engage them with metaphors and questions. A Why person will ask “how can I use this?”

What people

A What person learns by thinking through ideas; they seek facts and often need to know what the experts think. They have an idea and reflect on it. They require technical information. A What person will ask “what are the facts?”

How people

How people learn by testing theories. They need to know how it works and seek usability. How are they going to utilise this? A How person will ask “how does this work?”

So-what people

So-what people learn by trial and error and seek hidden possibilities. They reflect and engage in discovery. A So-what person will ask “where can I apply it?” and “Where else can I use it?”

This is another powerful system that will help you communicate your message in such a way that you capture the whole audience rather than just those who are like you.

Research tells us we have seven seconds to make an impact, therefore how you open and engage your audience is important. They will not always remember what you say however, they will remember the emotion they leave with. Ensure part of your preparation includes being conscious about giving a positive emotional experience.


Pollyanna Lenkic is the founder of Perspectives Coaching, an Australian based coaching and training company. She is an experienced facilitator, certified coach and a certified practitioner of NLP. In 1990 she co-founded a specialist IT recruitment consultancy in London, which grew to employ 18 people and turnover £11 million ($27 million). This blog is about the mistakes she made and the lessons she learned building a business the first time round and how to do it better second time round. For more information go to

For more Second Time Around, click here.


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments