How to remember more from training and workshops

We've all been there - Sat in a great training session or heard from a superb speaker and with all good intentions to implement what we have learned back in the workplace just got caught up with 'business as usual' and nothing changes.

In fact, this is so common and not a new phenomenon that Hermann Ebbinghaus created the 'Forgetting Curve' in 1885 to show how our retention of information drops off extremely quickly that even after one hour, we can't recall half of what we were exposed to.

So what can we do to improve the retention of information? Let's look at a few ideas:

Reinforce and refresh

If you have a reminder relatively soon after the workshop or training, you will retain more. This is because you are connecting new information to old information which is easily linked. A poster in the office reminding of some key points will also include a transfer of the knowledge to a different medium (e.g. written text into a graphic)


Similar to reinforcing and refreshing, repetition is how we learn well. Hearing the most important messages often, helps them to become embedded. If you had a shopping list read to you and the reader repeated the most important item three times and the other items once, you are pretty much guaranteed to not forget the repeated item on the verbal list.

Primary and recency

We are very likely to remember the first and last things we hear. If we are presenting or speaking, we should have important components at both ends of the presentation as people will most likely remember those. If we are listening to a speaker pay attention to the middle of the presentation as you are less likely to remember it.

Taking Notes

Making notes is very important to retention. Taking actions from those notes is even more important. Here's a suggestion: When you are making notes in a meeting or workshop, draw a line two thirds of the way across the page and all the way down. On the left hand side of the page make notes of important aspects you hear. On the right third of the page, make bullet point actions. Anything that comes to mind will be useful, even if it's not linked to the presentation you're in. When you get back to the office, at least look at the right hand third with the actions and do them.

Share and apply

As soon as you can, share something from the training or workshop with someone else. Even better if you can apply something straight away. Both of these acts help to commit the new knowledge to memory and create more permanent road maps in our brains.

Forgetting Curve
Forgetting Curve