It’s how much you remember

AS educators be it teachers, trainers or facilitators, we have to prepare for our lessons, classes and tutorials.

Most of us will spend our ‘contact hours’ learning and feeding our minds with knowledge.

It truly is amazing to see that so many people have an interest in taking themselves to the next level. Unfortunately, even though the intention is constructive, there lies an undetected negative effect to studying and learning new information.

With the professional learning community or learning seminar of some kind, whether it is powerful and exciting like a motivational event or a low-key workshop for new programme, we need to fill our minds with new and or maybe old things.

Obviously from the back-end, the purpose of almost all these seminars are to provide us with something that you may or may not need. However, the programme aside, the intention at this seminar is to learn new information, gain knowledge, or maybe even refresh your memory. Chances are that one to two weeks after the seminars are over, you’ll completely forget almost everything you’ve learned.

On the average, about 80% of everything you learn in any given day is forgotten.

Working on what you want to remember is one of the ways you beat the forgetting syndrome. The best way to make information memorable is to use the keyword method, because it links our verbal memory with our spatial memory.

Doing a task over and over can improve your memory of the task details considerably. Make a conscious effort to incorporate important facts into tasks you practise often.

The average short-term memory capacity is seven plus or minus two pieces of information. That is five to nine pieces. This is why phone numbers are seven digits long. Short term memory is only what you hold in your mind at the moment. If you don’t elaborate on it, find some way to make it stick then as soon as you stop repeating the information to yourself, it will be gone.

In addition to the seven plus or minus two limit, short-term memory last for only about 20 seconds. When it comes to language, short-term memory generally encodes information by sound, while long-term memory encodes information by meaning.

Therefore, when you want to remember something, don’t rely on catchy rhymes or other auditory tricks, aim for meaning.

Similarly, to make your words more memorable, try to make it meaningful and to help people make connections between what you are saying and things they already know.

Items at the beginning and end of a list are more easily recalled than items in the middle. So too with the first and last topics in a speech or in a text so put the important points in the introduction and conclusion. Within paragraphs, put the ideas you want remembered in the first or last sentences. So too with conversations, begin and end with what you want remembered. I used to train my students this way in writing.

The reverse of this principle works too. Bury the bad news in the middle of your report or presentation to decrease its impact and increase the chance that people will forget it. By consciously arranging how you present information you can increase the effectiveness of your communication.


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