#4 in the ‘8 ways to save yourself from…’ series
Business, organisations, groups and even families need to keep themselves safe from slips, trips and accidents, primarily to save people being hurt but often to protect yourself from expensive prosecution. Yet mistakes still regularly happen, possibly because people may have attended training but they haven’t carried any behaviour change into the work place. This can be the fault of inappropriate or insufficiently sticky training or it may be other factors. For example we have a number of clients who have staff for whom English is their second language. This can bring challenges of understanding as well as cultural differences or misunderstandings. From my own experience in Spain I know how easy it is to misinterpret something in another language.
Additionally, this type of compliance and regulatory training can often seem distant from the real world. To make it more effective you need to make it less abstract and more real, contextual and concrete. These ideas are all applicable whether you’re training face to face, virtually or digitally…
1. Use more, real images – we can’t re-iterate this enough. Our brains process images more easily and faster than words. And if you can see what a hazard looks like rather than just be told about it you’ve got a better chance of recognising it.
2. Use emotional stories because they are much stickier and brain friendly than data or facts which are hard for our brains to get hold of. Stories often translate across language and culture barriers because they are universally used.
3. Use informational signs / notices or statements wisely – tell people what you want and don’t draw their attention to what isn’t required. No smoking signs have been found to remind people about smoking and increase the likelihood they will light up in a break, more than having no signs.
4. Use outcome focused language. To process a negative idea you need to first process the concrete, positive idea and then suppress it, which is harder work for your brain. It also doesn’t describe the behaviour you’re looking for. “Don’t walk on the grass” still leaves many other options for things to do on the grass whereas “Walk on the pathways” directs attention to what’s required. And who wants to be told “don’t…!” all the time. Additionally for anyone struggling with a second language it’s relatively easy to miss small negative words and only notice verbs or nouns.
5. Flowcharts are both logical and graphical at the same time and can be used to work out the best, or worst, way to approach a hazard or threat. Make them big, get people to draw their own, make them physical and map them out on the floor.
6. Ask participants to sort or match information rather than just give it to them. Identifying, sorting and deciding all focus attention more deeply than merely listening, so improving memory retention. If you’ve got a process, print out key elements and ask people to decide on the best order.
7. Use concrete, multisensory language rather than abstract language. It helps people to get a feel for what they’re learning. They can sound out their thoughts or visualise what’s going on much better than abstract, conceptual ideas which are easier to misinterpret.
8. Encourage technology use – let people use their mobile phones to translate anything they don’t already know. Whilst most translation systems aren’t perfect, people enjoy using them and don’t have to break the flow of a conversation or keep saying “I don’t understand” which is demotivating.
For many more ideas and a practical demonstration of transforming highly technical content join us at
How to be a Brain Friendly Trainer.