I was asked this week why I have scheduled The Social Media Workshop on a Thursday morning and The Social Media Café the following day.  Is it too much time to take out of a business?

I appreciate that investing in ourselves and our learning is expensive, both in terms of time and money.  We must get the most out of it, but how?

As a social media trainer also working in a university environment, I am continually looking for ways that I can improve the impact of the content that I deliver.

Recently I was reminded of the words of Xun Kuang, a Chinese Confucian philosopher that lived from 312-230 BC.  His words can be précised as: –

Not having heard something, is not as good as having heard it;
having heard it is not as good as having seen it;
having seen it is not as good as knowing it;
knowing it is not as good as putting it into practice.

In 1885 Hermann Ebbinghaus pioneered an experimental study into memory.  His findings show a theory of how information rapidly seeps out of our brains. Ebbinghaus used himself as a guinea pig and discovered that within a month he had forgotten 90% of what he’d learned and the ‘the forgetting curve’ was born.  Ebbinghaus’ findings have been substantiated by more modern scientists, too.

Research on the forgetting curve shows that within one hour, people will have forgotten an average of 50% of the information presented.

Within 24 hours, they have forgotten an average of 70 % of new information, and within a week, on average, 90% of the information will be forgotten. 

And I thought it was me!

Every minute of the day we receive a deluge of information that is relevant only for a short period of time. For example, you may have remembered where you parked your car last Thursday and you remembered where it was for the rest of the day, but now that the information is no longer useful, your brain has forgotten it.

What can we do to reduce the impact of the forgetting curve?
The message is simple: use it or lose it! 
In 1946 Edgar Dale (an American educator) devised a “Cone of Learning”  He claimed that in a period of 2 weeks, we remember only
10% of what we read,
20% of what we hear,
30% of what we see,
50% of what we hear and see,
70% of what we say and write and
90% of what we actually participate in.

So perhaps the greater our involvement, the more we learn and remember?

Ebbinghaus believed that repeating the learning increases the optimum interval before the next repetition is needed and for near-perfect retention, initial repetitions may need to be made within days.

If you undertake training, what’s the best way to enhance information retention? 

Information needs to be regularly reinforced to become retained.  Retaining learning has been compared with nurturing a garden, if you regularly water the plants and look after them, they develop strong roots and flourish. Gardening isn’t something that is only done once but needs to be continuously carried out, in order to grow beautiful flowers.

So, we need to revisit and practice often what we want to remember.

Why not put the research into practice?

I was listening to Alice Jennings ‘Sorted’ podcast this week and Louise, the productivity mentor that Alice was chatting with, explained that our brains are 31% more productive in a happy state, than in a neutral or negative state.  Like Alice, cake makes me really happy!  That’s why there is always cake when I deliver training at The Social Media Workshop and The Social Media Café.  Now we have evidence to back it up……

One last thought! I love naps and aside from eating cake, napping is one of my top hobbies!  I was delighted to discover that researchers discovered that sleep is important for memory and learning. Research has shown that taking a nap after you learn something new can help learn faster and remember better.

One study  found that sleeping after learning something new actually leads to physical changes in the brain, so sleep has an important role in learning and memory consolidation.

So come to The Social Media Workshop, eat cake whilst learning new skills. Go home for a good night’s sleep then come back the next day to reinforce and practice what you learned, with more cake of course!  Win:win!