Organizations spend a considerable amount of money on mandatory and option employee training. How do they make sure the training stuff is going to stick? The secret is in understanding how our brains create and process memory. Without going into all of the technical neurophysiological details, the essential idea is about emotions. We remember what we feel a lot easier than what we are told. The reason is because emotions alert us to our environment. So, when we have a feeling associated with a memory, we will tend to pay attention to the feeling and look around to see what is causing it. Good thing, too, or that sabre-toothed tiger up on the rocks might have had us for lunch.

Good training that sticks must therefore grab people emotionally and connect the emotional experience with the subtantive content. Power Point presentations that are full of text fail miserably for this reason–there is no emotional content in plain text. Likewise, recitation of principles or rules will go in one ear and out the other–not because the listener doesn’t care, but because the brain is not set up to remember easily that kind of information.

When you train your people, use emotions shamelessly. Fear, disgust, joy, happiness, and anger all work when used appropriately. That’s why my Power Points have few words and lots of pictures and video clips. No one looking at my Power Points should have a clue what I am talking about unless they hear me speak. The Power Point provides the emotional experience to what I am teaching. Try it for yourself and let me know how it works.