The chances are you can remember exactly where you were, who told you and what you did when you heard about the attack on the World Trade Centre (Twin Towers) on September 11th, 2001. I do. I had just come out of a Sales Meeting on the 3rd floor of our building near Heathrow and everyone was crowded round various computer screens and televisions aghast at what was happening on a crystal clear September morning in New York. It is still as vivid today as it was the morning after and just a week from the event. So why do we hold on to such dramatic memories more than others?
A survey carried out by the University of Manchester, commissioned by Yesterday, a UK TV channel, sheds some light on what we remember and how. It looked at peoples recollection of events and compared shared high profile events with more personal landmarks. The findings are astonishing. It seems we remember shared high global events and personal successes more than family or personal landmarks. Take for example the following:
82% of people surveyed could recall the detail of their hearing of 9/11 compared with only 72% being able to recall the same level of detail about their wedding day.
62% were able to recall in detail their whereabouts on hearing of the death of Princess Diana compared with only 50% being able to recall details of their child’s first birthday.
Findings from the data clearly show that the dramatic shared experience is recalled more easily than personal and less dramatic events. Thinking about the implications of this in training I started to list and recall training events I attended as a delegate over the years (and there has been 50 or so). I set myself the task of trying to remember the trainers name, the name of the course and a single learning point from each.
When I reviewed my results I was shocked at the findings. I remember the training stars of course like Bandler, Robbins, Covey and Anderson and others, but most of the standard business trainers and training have drifted away. In fact of the 50 or so I know I’ve attended, I struggled to recall even 10. The only exceptions were the dramatic courses, the big changes and the ones that made me personally feel successful (strangely enough the most remembered personal event in the survey was a personal success; Passing your Driving Test at 79%).
Do your own personal survey and tell us your results;
Step 1. List the training events you have been on in the last 5 years or so. (Do you think you have them all down or have you even forgotten a few already?)
Step 2. Write down the trainers name next to the course. (What was his name again?)
Step 3. Write down the title of the course or what it was about. (Was it…?)
Step 4. Write down 1 key learning point you remember. (Nope! Gone.)
I’m guessing you have gaps everywhere and I know that you are not alone and everyone has a similar experience.
Does this mean that most business training is wasted? Only if it is boring. If it is dramatic (different) and makes delegates feel successful then recall is higher and learning is guaranteed.
The message from all this is obvious. In designing training make sure you have compelling events (not irrelevant icebreakers by the way, they are lame), shared experiences and built in success. In choosing a training provider make sure they are different, stand-out, excite, engage and make people feel good about themselves. Make sure their stories and metaphors are vivid and compelling and their teaching styles varied and flexible. If you do that then I know that your teams will be able to at least recall the three things you couldn’t and perhaps have learned a lot more.
For more information on outstanding presentation and to report “Boring Presentations” and “Trainings” go to http://www.endboringpresentations.com/
For the source report on the survey visit http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/4902836/Memories-of-historic-events-stonger-than-personal-moments.html