Imagine the scene; you are coming to the end of a two-day training course that has been successful. You are completing your action plan, feeling motivated about what you are going to do when back at work, how you are going to do it and you can even picture your manager thanking you for the increase in your performance. You say goodbye to the other delegates and thank the trainer then leave the room.

You are tired so you don’t look at your notes that evening and promise to review them the next day at work. You get to work and think you should check your emails first “just in case” or to see what’ s happened in your absence. So you open them up and put your notes to one side.  Whoa, more emails than you thought and what’s this urgent request? “Right I better deal with that” you think to yourself. You deal with that and then on to the next one. Then its lunch time, you look at the notes and feel too tired to look at them, “on the way home” you tell yourself. Well the day gets busier and by the end you forgot about your notes. This happens for the next few days and possibly longer.

Until you force yourself to make looking at your notes the first task of the day (while hearing the voice of Brian Tracy telling you to “eat that frog” aka “do the important task first”).

You go over the pack and the notes and whilst reading you come across some terms and abbreviations that you aren’t quite sure about, you recall writing them down and some time spent during the session but still nothing. Then you review your action plan and there’s an action saying you’ll do X but you aren’t sure how to do X as you cannot remember one of the instructions properly. You take a quick look on Google and find some articles which help so you make a note of them and promise yourself you’ll look at them in more detail soon.

“Soon” never happens, the training notes and pack get put away and the action plan never gets reviewed, the changes to your performance do not happen as much as you hoped and after a few months you know you went on a course, and the topics but cannot remember much more than that.

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This is a picture of the worst case scenario (and something I’ve done before); however, I’m sure many of you reading this can relate to something similar. You’ve learnt something and over time you’ve forgotten it.

The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve suggests that after people learn something new they would have forgotten almost 75 per cent after only six days. Even more worrying is that after 20 minutes you’ll only remember approx 60 per cent. This means you’ve forgotten 40 per cent of what you’ve learnt in potentially less time than it took you to originally “learn” it.

The only way to prevent this is to continue to reinforce what you’ve learnt so that you remember it.  This applies to all learning regardless of whether it is knowledge, skills or behaviours. So trainers, facilitators and delegates should all take responsible for making sure that they take steps to stop forgetting what they’ve learnt.

Trainers can create sessions that engage delegates, ensure they learn in a brain friendly way using a mixture of tools, games, activities, music and which ultimately mean that when they leave the classroom or stop the learning they have a better chance of remembering what they’ve learnt.

During sessions make sure you reinforce the learning. Recently, I was in a workshop where the facilitator used props and more to show what makes up a brain and then a grapefruit as a guide to the weight of it. Then a month later in a follow up workshop we recapped. I’d forgotten the weight but I remembered the grapefruit and the props.

You can also create activities or work books that delegates can take away or use at regular intervals after the training to help reinforce it. Technology allows you to create documents and information which can be scheduled to be sent out when you want.

The responsibility for reinforcing learning shouldn’t end there. The delegate should put things in place to help them. Go over your notes as soon as possible, put time aside on a regular basis to review these, work on your learning styles, read more about the topics, get buy in from your manager (always easier said than done it seems).  Force yourself to be disciplined to use this regular time to ensure the knowledge, skills or behaviours are reinforced and stay learnt.

Now to see what you’ve remember:

• What was the name of the curve I mentioned above?

• Who did I reference to about “eating that frog”

• What fruit did I refer about the brain?

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