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So you’ve set aside the time for an awesome learning opportunity; whether it be a work training day, workshop, short talk, boot camp, or even a short course. The hard part? Retaining the most important takeaways, and then applying them effectively in the future. A boot camp/workshop structure makes sense for those wanting to quickly implement new skills and learnings; we run you through how to make the most out of newly learned content.
What you do before and after your workshop is just as important as what you do there. Prepare for the day by getting yourself acquainted with content, understand key terms, and outline what you want to get out of the day. Go further by outlining a list of areas that you are interested in exploring further, as well as a list of questions you might want to discuss in-class or with the speakers or teachers.
Everyone learns differently. If you don’t know your learning style, find out here. Once you know how you learn best, set yourself up on the day with the right tools in mind; for example, sit near the front if you’re a visual learner, and takedown diagrammatic notes. Reflecting on study methods and techniques that have helped you remember things previously, is also valuable; what has worked for you previously?
To remember things, we need to actively engage. That means reiterating and repeating material in a way that makes sense to you, rather than passively reading or listening. Repeating it back, writing notes in your own words, and asking questions are all good ways of engaging with new content. Buddying up and bringing a work colleague along for the learning opportunity also greatly impacts your ability to later apply learned knowledge in new contexts.
Ever get through an introduction only to forget the person’s name a couple of minutes later? The next-in-line effect, where you’re nervously thinking about what to say next, inhibits memory. Being present means staying focused on what is happening now, and is incredibly important when learning new things and committing new information to memory.
Taking time at the end of the day to go through what you’ve learned, how it’s useful, and how you can implement it in the future is really important. Develop a post-training action plan, building on these takeaways you’ve explored in a given time-frame for action.
If you’ve decided to invest your time, and money, in a new learning opportunity, it’s imperative that you prep yourself and get the most out of it. The main reason for a lack of information retention at these short, intense learning days, is that to properly acquire new skills and information, one must consistently practice these new skills, in-context.
Many think that passively listening to a talk or reading an interesting article will immediately result in new knowledge. Unfortunately, our brains don’t work that way. To understand new things, and gain new skills, it’s imperative to practice, practice, practice!