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Five ways to make learning stick

There are many theories around the science of learning, from visual and auditory learners to the value of playtime in boosting productivity.

A key concern when carving time out in the diary for training days with employees is ensuring that the learning is valuable, appropriate, and most of all – that it is retained.

Leading research suggests that the average person requires nearly thirty engagements with new material in order for information to transfer into long-term memory. We know you need to get the most out of your training sessions, which is why we’ve put together five of our favourite productivity hacks to make learning stick. Let’s dive in!

Make it relevant to their role

Research has shown that when delegates perceive they need to improve their job performance in areas related to the skills they are being taught, they are more likely to transfer the training to the job. With this in mind, it seems logical to ensure that your training and workshops are meaningful and contextualised.

For example, let’s say you arrange a training-focused away day for all the line managers in your company and the purpose of the day is to improve leadership skills and conflict management. Make the content meaningful by following up on theorem with case studies from your company, and asking your delegates to apply what they’ve learned to potential workplace scenarios.

Space out your content

This can feel counter-intuitive when you’ve taken your delegates out of work for the day for training. It’s natural to want to cram as much information as humanly possible into your training session to get more bang for your buck. But your delegates aren’t computers, they can’t download and process all that data in large blocks.

To maximise retention, consider switching focus every twenty minutes, and build in blocks of free time after each topic to allow for questions – as opposed to sprinting through content like a gazelle fleeing an African lion. By drip feeding content, delegates are given more time to process.

Provide training sessions in more digestible formats

Paper is so 20th century. The reliable paper handout is in decline, as more delegates begin to favour the convenience of digital devices to follow presentations and take notes. Take this into account when delivering training sessions – could the day’s training be circulated beforehand for delegates to review?

Reiteration is the key to helping information lodge itself firmly in your delegate’s mind. Consider repurposing content into multiple formats such as audio recording, video content, podcasts, one-page fact sheets. This will allow delegates to engage in a variety of ways to suit them, before and after training, as well as keeping the information fresh.

Reduce distractions

We’ve discussed previously how to create a more productive physical environment for your delegates, what else can be done to reduce distractions?

Sometimes our busy minds are the biggest blockade to learning. Before your training begins, ask delegates to jot down everything on their mind. Any potentially disruptive thoughts, from unread emails or a report that needs to be completed by month end, to needing to pick up a pint of milk on the way home. Fold up the list and place it out of sight, along with their mobile phone and any other potential distractions.

Let the student become the master

Last but not least, one of the most effective ways to check if your training has stuck is to allow your delegates to take the lead. Ask your delegates to study the material in-depth, then split them into groups and ask them to summarise a section of the session in bullet points to present to the rest of the room. This is another way of contextualising the training session and keeping their minds sharp.

If group presentations seem a little too intimidating or your event is time poor, consider randomly assigning delegates into pairs and sending them for a stroll. Walking meetings are known for boosting mental capacity, they can use the quiet time as an opportunity to discuss topics and test each other on their knowledge.

Want to discuss further how we can help you create the best learning experience for your next training day? Contact the CentrEd team on +44 (0)20 7069 4723 or email us at centred@excel.london.