What are the implications for us if within 24 hours of learning we have forgotten nearly 80% of what we learnt? What’s the point?
And that’s not all, how much will it have cost us and our organisations in terms of time, money and effort? A lot, believe me I know! After years in the learning industry I have spent a lot of time considering the question ‘how do you prevent this from happening in the future?’
In search for an answer to these questions we first need to understand the science, which is surprisingly easy. What’s also surprising is that this was understood as far back as 1885 when the Psychologist, Herman Ebbinghaus, first scientifically studied ‘forgetting’ and revealed a relationship between forgetting and time, and quite rightly called it the ‘The Curve of Forgetting’.
What is the Curve of Forgetting?
Day 1 Of your learning, you know nothing and by the end of learning have 100% recall.
Day 2 Do nothing with the information that you learned and you will have lost 50%-80% of it.
Day 30 you are down to about 2 - 3%.
Why do we forget?
If you only hear something once, it essentially does not get processed into long-term memory.
Our brains are bombarded with 2 million bits of information every second, not all of it necessary. So to prevent us from going into perpetual overload it has to decide what it does and doesn’t need. If we don’t revisit important information that we know we need to retain, then our brain simply off loads it.
What you can do to improve your memory?
Much has been written about the Curve of Forgetting and indeed it supports one of the seven kinds of memory failures: transience, the process of forgetting that occurs with the passage of time. So what can you do to improve memory and recall?
1. Sales are about communication and we can all do that on some level because we are communicating constantly with everyone we interact with professionally and socially. Learn to connect the new information you are learning with that already embedded into your memory.
2. Break down information into bite-sized chunks that are easy to understand. The Sales Activator coaching and question cards are a powerful tool as they chunk information ready prepared to activate the memory and reinforce learning and best practice, by asking the right questions to revisit and activate a team’s memory in just 5 minutes.
3. Create an environment for sales teams that is competitive and non-threatening, one that encourages learning and makes it highly interactive and fun. Team engagement through competition is powerful because it leverages a sales persons naturally competitive mindset to make the most of their situation.
4. Use the curve of forgetting to help you plan learning and coaching to develop your team so you get the best memory recall at the right time.
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