8 Ways to Save Yourself from Too Much Content, Too Little Time

#7 in the ‘8 ways to save yourself from…’ series

It’s amazing that even with all the knowledge available at our finger tips so that people can look it up themselves, designers and trainers are still being asked to create training programmes with more content… “and please could you squeeze it into a 2 hour slot because that’s all we have time for?”. Without even starting on the “when will we have time to practice”, we need to resist the impulse to cram more content into less time.

1. Stand up and display your professionalism. People who ask for too much content in too little time don’t understand what it takes for people to learn or what it takes to deliver successful learning programmes that create sticky change. They just want to get the information out there so they might as well write a report and ask people to read it. You need to be able to explain to them that learning isn’t as easy as that and if they expect results there’s going to have to be more time and better quality delivery.

2. When we learn it uses up energy and our brains aren’t full of endless resources. Just like your muscles they tire, need rest and need feeding. You can ask someone to sit and listen all day long but that doesn’t mean there’s any change happening inside their heads – or at least not the sort that’s required.

3. In order to consolidate memories, turn them from short term into long term connections, we need to sleep. Asking someone to remember something and then filling them with more information before they’ve slept is like overfilling an already full jug of water – it’s a waste.

4. Working memory can only hold a limited amount of information so trying to cram lots of information into a bite sized chunk won’t work either. Chunking is an excellent way of breaking up information but it needs to be spaced.

5. R. Douglas Fields did some research showing that once a neuron has fired and connected with another it needs about 8 minutes to recover ready to fire again – so when delivering information you need to space your repetitions to take account of this.

6. Learning doesn’t happen when we don’t attend to something so you need to grab attention before you present information. If you’ve been talking for 20 minutes before you deliver the main points the chances are your listener has been distracted by something else and they’re going to miss the important part. So you need to get attention first.

7. Whilst knowledge is useful and often vital, it still remains as purely knowledge. It’s not applicable and most learning at work is about changing processes, behaviours and attitudes. People need time to adapt and practice new behaviours in a relatively benign environment with plenty of feedback and support to adjust their behaviours. Just telling people to do something isn’t learning.

8. Our experience shows that people who are physically engaged in something ask better and more varied questions than people who are slumped in a chair. Our bodies and brains were designed to move and there is endless research showing how physical activity helps our brains work better. So get people moving as they learn.

For a more in-depth dive into the science behind these 8 ideas and multiple examples of how to use them to design and deliver really effective content and change, join us at How to be a Brain Friendly Trainer