Five suggestions for making training more memorable

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Jason Silberman offers the community some pointers to make sure that session sticks in the memory.

 

Training officers have to always think of how best to overcome the challenge of having to train and retrain their workers, and yet still have to answer repeat questions later. A key question is how to make the things learned during the training stick in the workers' memories? Or, looking at it from an ROI perspective, how can the value of any training course be maximised?  

Here are five things to consider when planning your training strategy, in order to make training memorable...

Choosing the right location

In order to produce a memorable training session, and to raise the chances that the material will be better absorbed by the trainees, the training venue must always be in (and be surrounded by) a conducive environment to learning. These can differ based on the type of lesson you're planning – whether in an outdoor environment for a physical team-building activity, or indoors, it’s important that a few key factors be considered. First, that external noise is at a minimum – it just increases distractions and makes it hard for some people to maintain focus. Second, the size of the space should have the trainees close together so that they can feed off each other and allow for greater group interaction. From a practical standpoint, make sure to choose a venue where there are the necessary technological tools needed for the best training experience – a projector, top-level computers, etc. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, try to choose a space that will be memorable – bland meeting rooms sometimes can allow training sessions to blur into insignificance. Choose a place that will really be fun to be in, to look at, and to learn in.

Getting the best and ideal trainer

If the trainer is dull and boring, it is more likely that trainees will become disinterested with the lessons being taught, even if the subject is actually pretty interesting. Conversely, a good trainer can be truly inspiring, even when teaching something pretty boring. Companies should get the right person with the best qualifications to make every training session memorable. It’s important that a trainer possess the following characteristics to add to the energy level of the training:

  • Innovative
  • Articulate
  • Adaptable

"It’s important that the training be interactive, stimulating and engaging. Provide participant involvement in the training in a way that pulls people into the experience. Get their feedback and their ideas."

Make every training session interesting

If the trainer or the training presentation is dull and has lots of glitches, chances are that all those attending the training session will become sleepy and/or bored. It’s important that the content itself, as well as the training methods are engaging, interactive and interesting. Various techniques that have proved to be effective in the long term include using humour, telling a story through examples and narrative, and using technology (see below). It’s also important that the training be interactive, stimulating and engaging. Provide participant involvement in the training in a way that pulls people into the experience. Get their feedback and their ideas. Use gamification techniques to increase engagement and generate team building. Finally, get them out of their chairs – creating a physical activity that refreshes their attention span both mentally and physically. 

Utilise technology

Related to shaping the training session to be as interesting and as relevant as possible, is the ability and need to use technological tools to make training more memorable. Use audio-visual strategies, like bringing in music for different segments of the training, using different colors and pictures to stimulate the brain (practical tips can be using different colored highlighters or using brightly colored graphics). You can also use recording technology, video screens and more. 

In addition, with the introduction of new technology it is possible to schedule remote, online follow-up sessions. Encourage the company and training participants to adopt elearning and mobile learning options. Suggest to participants to take up further learning modules through the Internet or simply involve online questionnaires to establish learning as well as self-assessment tests to identify strengths and weaknesses. Incorporate software programs to complement and personalise training to fit each employee’s exact needs, and to be able to stay with them as they are actually doing their jobs, long after the training orientation is completed. 

Make every training session short and directly practical to their jobs

If the training takes several hours and eats up much of the trainee’s time, it is possible they will zone out or lose focus during a training session. Make every training session short and concise enough for the employees, with a good trainer being a good observer in recognising when people are reading for a break. Furthermore, it’s important that in the short time for each session, what is being taught are concise, practical skills that are directly addressing the needed skills for the employees. In other words, make sure they're getting something they actually need. Try to plan short sessions, tailored exactly to the bits they need in their job. This should increase the chances for retaining the knowledge in their memory, and reduce the need for repeat training in the future.

 

Jason Silberman is marketing director at WalkMe, the world’s first interactive online guidance system. He is also a training specialist, and is the lead author and editor of Training Station, a blog devoted to news and ideas on training, learning and organizational development. Follow him at @tstationblog.

 

Comments

This are amazing set of Tips..very clear & concise..!! Really helpful..Thanks

These are great suggestions. I would add two that have proven to be very effective;

1 - Pre-work - Sending participants a brief description of the session and its importance along with a short article and/or quiz can whet the participant's appetite for the topic. Also, sending a note to the participant's supervisor, encouraging them to have a brief discussion with the participant prior to the session about the training topic and how it relates to the participant's responsibilities can be very powerful.

2 - Session Sponsorship - Securing a senior leader to act as the session "host" can make a memorable impression. The senior leader need only be there at the start of the session to make a few comments about the importance of the topic to the organization's strategy and/or her own experience with this topic.

Brilliant. Concise. Helpful. Thank you for calling our attention on those tips for getting better results. And also for David's suggestions.

I would add:

3. Feedback report to participants: Insert pictures of participant's "production", working in groups, end of course picture 

blakehenegan's picture

Jason, 

This is a great piece, highlighting some important areas that are often overlooked and undervalued e.g. location & settings, and relating it back to the audience's own job. 

I think its also highly important to think about how the learning is going to be reinforced post event.  This responsibility fits with the learner,  the manager,  L&D staff and the trainer as well. 

Whenever employees are planning on undertaking learning both L&D and Managers should have plans and processes in place to support the employee use their new knowledge and skills in order to improve their performance.

Keep up the good work. 

Blake

russlater's picture

repetition of the key messages; thiscan include before/during and after the training but the more often a message is repeated the more it will be remebered.  Repetition works.

emotion: if a strong emotion can be triggered it increases the likelihood of rembering a message.  It almost doesn't matter which emotion but a STRONG one.  Everyone who was alive then remebers what they were doing when they heard Kennedy was shot or that the World Trade Centre had been attacked......shock is an emotion.

don't forget repetition

need: if you really need to remeber this because your career depends on it today or your life may tomorrow, things stick in the mind.  I can still remeber stuff I learned at Sandhurst in the late Jurassic becasue if I forgot my military career eneded there and then.  I still remember the First Aid I learnt 25 years ago because it was drilled into us that this could save a life (yes, most of it is probably out of date now)

don't forget repetition

  

Jason, the list is disappointing, bland, and banal.

I'm not sure why, but of the five, the most important one is the one you leave to last. Great training is defined by what the learner does after the program and it's this issue of being "directly practical" that affects this the most.

We've known since 1992 when Mary Broad and John Newstrom published "Transfer of Training" that to ensure "the value of any training course be maximised" we need to consult with the managers of the participants first and foremost .... P53 the Transfer Matrix. ....

Ensuring that your training is memorable happens before you start talking .... it's the research and preparation and the consultation with managers (who then talk with their team about their expectations) that gets the mindsets of participants into the right place on arrival. 

Think back to all your previous training courses and which ones stand out - for me its all about the trainer.  I did a First Aid course (for about the fourth time!) in a dull square room in the back of an industrial estate.  I guessed I knew what I would be taught, the room wasn't fantastic and we had to make our own coffee but I remember it because the trainer was great.  He had the right amount of "fun", he involved us, yes we did get us out of our seats and he realised when we needed a break.  His tone was varied, he move around the room, no powerpoint (!), and varied methods of delivery.  A great trainer will be able to overcome the negative issues raised above by adaptation.

 

Thanks for the comments and the feedback, and for adding, commenting on and critiquing the ideas. 

Surely I could add more, but I wanted to keep this as an entry-level list of tips.  

 

And I very much agree that initial training sessions are meant to be just that: a start.  The real work - and the learning - continues after, and is a process.

jeremyhall's picture

Great ideas but it seemed to me that the focus was on the "sage on the stage" type of training and there are more active methods (discussion, doing it (role-play, case study, simulation)) - where retention is greater. Research done by Motorola University links retention with methods (summarised here http://www.simulations.co.uk/pyramid.htm).

  

Very interesting article. I agree with the comment above around the use of case studies and role play. Training that learners can directly relate back to their day-to-day tasks and they can visualise how their new-found skills and knowledge will improve their performance in their job, is very powerful indeed!

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