Retention Lost in Lectures

eweber   March 5, 2009   20 Comments

Ever wonder why boredom strikes when people talk at you?  Wasting time at meetings or lectures? You’ll be interested in research from the National Training Laboratories in Bethel, Maine – and quoted in Geoff Petty’s Teaching Today shows that people retain far more when they when actively involved.

Ask the lecturer in this video and he will say he engages listeners.  He might even go on to suggest today’s audiences expect too much and give too little. Ask listeners and they may support these 100 reasons to run hard from lectures!

Have you considered lately how …

Lectures are the best way to get information from a teacher’s notebook to a student’s notebook without touching the student’s mind, according to G. Leonard. Has it happened to you?

MITA tactics engage participants for higher motivation and achievement in 5 basic ways?

1. Ask 2-footed questions so that one foot steps into people’s interests and one stirs curiosity for new topics. For example when I teach brain facts I ask participants – How could you prosper more with the brain in mind?

2. Target outcomes such as ethical conduct – that you expect participants to achieve. When you have a clear target in mind, others will be more willing to engage new ideas to reach it.

3. Expect quality responses by  specifying criteria that adds quality to people’s takeaways. For instance I often show how tone allows for different ideas to emerge and illuminate new angles of a topic.

4. Move people’s talents into action as multiple intelligence tools for lasting changes from newly applied facts or practices. For instance, demonstrate how different approaches often offer superior solutions.

5. Reflect for shared ways to mobilize rejuvenation. Without ongoing reflection the human brain defaults back to ruts. Can you see why we leave so many meetings and rarely change what we do following that session?

Using brain based tactics – how can you engage others with added zip for change today?

20 thoughts on “Retention Lost in Lectures

  1. Kathie Thomas

    Yes we did! It’s great how multi-faceted our topics are.

    I completely agree with the Nat’l Training Lab’s research. I always provide toys like playdoh and hand clappers to participants and my sessions because 85% of the nerves in your hands go directly to your brain. Activate your hands and you activate your brain!

    Kathie Thomass last blog post..Engage Your Employees Today for Success Tomorrow

  2. Steve Roesler


    As a long-time NTLer, I’m pleased to see the model trotted out again and used with specific brain-based suggestions.

    My fave: #3. High quality expectations that are bounded by specific criteria. It’s one thing to learn; it’s another to bump up the level of learning by using high standards.

    Your tone has set the tone for some good learning here…

    Steve Roeslers last blog post..Innovation Reigns in the Concert Hall Workplace

  3. Wally Bock

    I’ve found that there are two kinds of training programs. There are the ones where I bring the apples and fill their barrels. And there are the ones where we share apples from our barrels with each other. I’m usually doing something on leadership, management or supervision where apple sharing programs are both easy to do and effective.

    Wally Bocks last blog post..How executives botch layoffs

  4. eweber Post author

    Hi Kathie, it’s an interesting era of the brain – where people seem more willing to look to alternatives to the sheer lecture, in order to engage others meaningfully. Thanks for your insights in that regard!

  5. eweber Post author

    Steve, good to see you. Just again facilitated a very dynamic session of leaders from many careers and saw that people have wonderful ideas about topics – when spaces are created to contain those ideas. The next 10 years will continue to add many wonderful changes – such as those you suggest to engage other minds.

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  14. Kim Patrick Kobza

    This article completely squares with the success of “unconferences” which have no pre-determined agenda but where everyone has to come prepared to both teach and learn. Makes them very effective.

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  19. am 232 audiometer

    i have to agree with your statements, but the one i dissagree with, is the most recent, could you update yoyur post, letting myself and others know exactly what ur opinions are?

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