Memory expert, speaker and USA Memory Championship winner
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Why memory is the most important skill to train employees in

30th Jul 2019
Memory expert, speaker and USA Memory Championship winner
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Man using tablet pc and Brain Training concept on screen
iStock/cnythzl

Training employees to have better memory skills makes logical and financial sense – after all, why spend money training them in other skills if they won’t be able to remember them? Here are some tips to help improve memory recall.

What if you could not only help your employees to improve their performance, but at the same time add to their overall professional development, enrich their personal lives, and give them tips to help their kids in school?

This is all possible with a single training topic: memory skills. Memory is fundamental to learning, so improving an employee’s ability to remember will have a positive impact on multiple areas of their career and help them to retain information.

Quite frankly, you are wasting a lot of money on training if you don’t first teach your employees strategies to retain the information.

Every one of your staff will appreciate you empowering them with the ability to easily remember names, presentations, facts/figures, training material, procedures/processes, languages, and more.  

Moreover, when an employee is able to apply what they’ve learnt at work to their personal life, this really increases appreciation for and dedication to their employer.

Here are seven memory-boosting tips to share with your staff.

1. A picture is worth a thousand words

Take whatever it is that you are trying to remember and try to turn it into an image or scenario that you can picture in your mind’s eye. This will serve as a sort of mental note card or cue card.

You can even take it a step further and try to draw a picture that represents the information.

Research supports that drawing and doodling helps with long-term memory, and you’ll be able to better remember your visual after drawing it.

2. Sense it

After you have a visual, try to add additional senses to what you are seeing.  

Doing this will activate more areas of your brain and build more connections in your mind to the information, making it easier to retrieve it later when needed.

3. Unleash your imagination

If, as you’re reading this article, an elephant was to suddenly crash into the room and start spraying water on you with its trunk, you’d probably remember this unusual incident for the rest of your life. There is a psychological aspect to human memory.

Do your best to make your mental note card crazy, unusual, and extraordinary in some way.

4. Story power

Storytelling is a powerful memory aid. If you can keep the first three tips above in mind while creating a story, you will have an effective tool to help get new information into long-term memory.

Let’s go through an example with the following items:

  • Machines
  • Gold and silver
  • Vehicles
  • Medicine
  • Oil

Picture some giant machines. These machines start to smash up a huge pile of gold and silver.

Rising up suddenly from out of the gold and silver, you see vehicles.

Medicine starts to shoot out of the windows of the vehicles. Lastly, exploding out of the medicine, you see oil.

Read through the story two more times while visualising everything described. Just see it like a movie playing in your head.

Now, try to recite the random words by simply mentally playing back through the story.

You can probably also give them backwards with little effort by playing the story in reverse.

Without realising it, you just memorised the top five exports of the UK. You have built mental note cards to help you.

If you prioritise helping employees to retain information, the benefits will be noticed throughout your organisation.

The UK’s top exports are: machinery, precious metals (gold and silver), vehicles, pharmaceuticals (medicine), and oil.

This very simple technique has many powerful applications. A similar process can be used to ensure your employees memorise the company’s ten priorities or initiatives for the upcoming quarter, a set of procedures when starting out with a new client, important completion checklists, or steps for setting up new software, for example.

Of course this information can be looked up, but a lot of time is wasted over the course of a year when an employee has to constantly stop what they are doing to look through reference books, search through emails, or find the right documents outlining the procedures.

Have you ever sat at your desk for a while trying to remember who sent you the email with the information you need? Memory skills can save time and help improve efficiency.

5. Focus and pay attention

The tips above obviously won’t help unless you focus and pay attention.

It’s necessary to focus on one thing at a time and pay attention in order to remember effectively. You can improve focus and attention with training and practice.

6. Review just before sleep

Many studies have shown that reviewing information just before sleep causes your brain to process and solidify the information in your mind overnight.

The next morning you’ll wake up knowing the information much better than you did the day before.

7. Use it or lose it!

Do your best to follow through and use the tips from this article to force yourself to commit things to memory.

If you don’t use your memory, it’s going to deteriorate over time. The ‘use it or lose it’ principle applies to memory ability.

If you make it a priority to exercise your memory, however, it will get stronger over time. The brain is trainable just like the body.

This introduction to memory skills training is only the beginning.  If you prioritise helping employees to retain information, the benefits will be noticed throughout your organisation.

This is an important area that is often overlooked, so focusing on it will not only make your learning and development efforts more effective, but also more memorable.

Interested in this topic? Read Learning strategy: why cramming in content is counterproductive.

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