According to Time Magazine, if you want someone to really remember a lesson or an experience, take a break immediately afterwards. This allows the brain to absorb and consolidate the new information, in much the same way as sleep does. This has been researched at New York University with fMRI scanners, showing improved long term recall.
This has got me thinking about the way I design my training events. Typically I aim to cram as much in as I can in the interest of giving the client the maximum return on investment. The unspoken attitude seems to be that the harder we work them in the training room, the more they will get from it, and anyway, a training day “isn’t supposed to be a holiday.”
And yet I know perfectly well how useful it can be to have some time to reflect. How often have I seen apparently miraculous transformations take place overnight, most visibly when training presentation skills? It is almost as if people have taken some type of “learning tablet” overnight, and they walk in just different the next day. All that has happened is that they have had time to reflect and process the information from the previous day.
I remember a technique a colleague used called “A walk in the park”. Before the final session when people were about to do their final presentation, he’d pair people up and get them to take a walk outside the hotel, to talk through how they were going to do this, visualise success etc. It was a very powerful, and helped people to lift their game.
So I am going to build in more time for reflection in future, and hold out for the “less is more” principle. It will be interesting to see what difference it makes.