Lately, business trainers and traditional educators have embraced online learning because of ease and convenience. But teaching is tougher than it looks — just ask any schoolteacher. Why? too often, learners forget what you taught, so you’ve wasted your time and theirs. Today you’re going to learn a term you probably never heard of. And it may unlock some of the mysteries of learning. Let’s dive in . . .
Here’s the problem. Information is everywhere. There are thousands of information warehouses (a.k.a. libraries and bookstores) plus a mindboggling quantity of online data.
So providing the information in your educational webinar isn’t enough. Getting them to learn and apply it is the real challenge.
To do that, it may be helpful for you to know just a bit about cognitive load. There’s that new term I promised you 😉
Too Much Information
It seems weird that you can remember a birthday party you attended when you were five years old but can’t remember facts you just heard in an educational webinar.
Don’t worry, it’s not that your memory is bad.
There are two kinds of memory — short-term memory and long-term memory.
Any time you receive new information, your brain puts it in your short-term memory. The problem is that short-term memory holds only so much information. Then it gets filled up — like a whiteboard during a presentation.
At some point, you have to erase it, so you can write new information.
Retaining New Information
But before you erase that new data, your brain needs to move it into long-term memory, like a student copying from the whiteboard. Then the data is available for reference anytime, like notes in a notebook.
So don’t think of your educational webinar attendees as sponges, soaking up information. They perform a complex task: taking your new information into their short-term memory then integrating it into their long-term memory.
But the human brain understands its own limitations and doesn’t try to store all new information. If it did, their long-term memory would get filled up too.
So the brain looks for relevance and connections.
Connecting with Relevant Content
For an effective presentation, give those brains a helping hand. Here are some tips to help attendees absorb and retain your educational webinar content.
1. Keep it bite-size
Don’t use two sentences when one will do. OK, this one’s tough for us verbal types 😉
2. One idea at a time
An important part of your job is to line up the ideas in the correct order, so the next thought builds on the previous one.
3. Minimize distractions
Chit-chat makes your presentation friendly and conversational. But keep steering the conversation back on-topic.
4. Relate to existing knowledge
Long-term memory works by association — like looking for a place to hang a new outfit you just bought. So help them find those hangers. That reminds me . . . spring shopping is just around the corner 🙂
5. Leave time for processing
Want to know the best way to get them to integrate your new information into long-term memory? Give them an exercise that forces them to use their new knowledge. When they problem-solve, they are processing that new information into long-term memory.
6. Be practical
Talk about how to use your ideas in real life. People remember what they implement.
7. Set reasonable goals
Too much information can be overwhelming, and attendees may stop trying to assimilate it. You’re better off teaching a few great ideas they can use right away than a jumble of ideas that never get implemented.
Remember that they’re attending your educational webinar to learn. Teaching isn’t just telling. So instead of a “data dump,” design a presentation structure that works like the human brain.
- Drop each new idea into their short-term memory.
- Then show how it relates to what they already know.
- Most important, show them how to use it.
And maybe a year from now (or even a few decades) they’ll remember you AND the valuable lessons you taught them.