I spend lots of my life training people. And my mum (weirdly) once saw me running a workshop, and said, with her usual Lancastrian insight, “It’s just showing off, really, isn’t it?”

On some level of course, she’s right. But as we launch a big menu of all our training, and in a desperate attempt to prove my value to the business world, here are a few big things we’ve learnt from delivering training in all kinds of subjects, all over the world.

Doing stuff together is more fun

If your job involves ‘creating content’ (eurgh) you should probably be getting up to speed on how to use all the clever new AI tools. And we could all do that on our own, maybe in the middle of the night.

But most of us don’t bother. So instead we get teams together to do AI training. That has two benefits: first, it’s much more fun (you can immediately compare notes on how you got ChatGPT to sound like Boris Johnson). And second, of course, it forces you to spend half a day doing it.

When our training went fully virtual during Covid, we worried that the face-to-face stuff would never return (and think of how that would affect my Air Miles). But actually, it’s come back stronger; in a hybrid world, training is a carrot that will actually get people to come into the office.

Practice is more likely to stick than a lecture

We often walk into our clients’ training rooms and see printouts of the gigantic, wordy PowerPoint decks the last trainer left behind.

And not surprisingly, training like that doesn’t work. The generation effect says that if you feel like you’ve found something out for yourself, it’s more likely to stick than if you just read it (or someone lectures you about it).

So our training exercises work the other way round to most people’s. Instead of ‘Here’s a principle, now practise it’, we say ‘See if you can get ChatGPT to sound like Boris Johnson. OK, what worked? How could you apply that to what you write?’

No one can remember more than three things

OK, Miller’s Law says it’s more, but this is another reason why those unwieldy training decks fail. I’d much rather have people remember one or two things a year later – and actually use them in their day-to-day work – than remember 14 things for about 24 hours.

So that’s why this blog ends here.


(But if you want more on how we use psychological insights to shape our training, have a read of The Science of Magic)

Neil Taylor Screen

Written by: Neil Taylor, Chief of Brand at Definition