Thought Leadership Blog

The HRS Thought Leadership Blog delivers validated findings, visionary perspectives and op/ed commentaries related to HR, Leadership, Organizational Development and Employment Law. To enjoy the full volume of available articles, please enter topic keywords in the search box to explore our body of work. Articles are regularly presented by the HRS team and guest experts.

How to Choose a Low Cost, Highly Effective Training Method: Forget Seminars!

Auditory or speech-based learning is validated as both the least effective and least preferred training method, yet we overuse.  Adults cannot absorb more than 2.5 hours new information at a time, yet we pay for full-day seminars.  Keep seminars as networking events and perks for team members who need an outing… but do not expect substantial knowledge transfer.  When learning is critical, remember that 92% of individuals required a three-fold approach to learning… and the most effective three are visual demonstration, participative discussion, and hands on learning.  As it takes 3 instances of learning to create long term knowledge – and long term is only 20 minutes or more – ”trilogy” training is essential. Employers of choice recognize success relies upon the right people doing the right things.  This rests heavily upon training effectiveness and cost efficiencies.  The old days of the “talking head” at the podium are phased out.

In a recent survey of more than 3000, 60% of respondents tell us “Kinesthetic” (hands on) is their preferred learning style and auditory learning is by far the least preferred, coming in at only 8%.  Visual training is more than twice as effective as auditory. Learning professionals suggests a blend of participative workshop and video training. 

Video training is best used in the procedural “how to” instructions which can be represented visually. As trainers find burnout, distraction and inconsistency in the act of training, a standardized video allows us to ensure every trainee receives the complete message and the same information. Think about how many times you left for work wondering if you locked the door, turned off an appliance, or could not specifically remember performing some other routine auto-pilot task.  Invariably, trainers miss opportunities to deliver consistent messages from one training group to the next.  Without knowledge that each employee received the same completeness and quality of training, we have no reliable basis of evaluation or comparison.  Video training is the demonstration that sets up kinesthetic learning.  We see how to do it, and then we try it ourselves.  The margin of error in video training is negligible because the message is consistent. Video does not have a bad day.  Video does not argue with a spouse or significant other.  Video doesn’t miss its morning coffee.  Video’s transportation does not fail, and video does not get the flu.  Video is reliable, convenient and completely consistent.  Done well, the return on investment is quick and strong.

Participative Workshops are necessary in all training regimens, at a minimum, as the checkpoint and validation of learning with long term sustainability.  As a component to trilogy training, these kinesthetic participative workshops are to be inserted where problem solving, judgment and deep topic understanding are essential to goal attainment.  While it is far more common to find a speaker with podium skills and a well-rehearsed presentation, audience adaptation and the ability to provide meaningful answers to spontaneous questions is more effective to this exercise.  Top universities inject kinesthetic learning into the classroom and assignment activities.  Participative discussion is where transformation happens and learning is validated.  This is also where we increase employee engagement, morale and motivation. 

Workshops delivered by internal personnel can be inserted as a component, but due to fear of reprisal and perception of company bias, third party professional trainers can accomplish training and secure employee buy-in otherwise impossible for the internal key team.  By experiencing it go right as validated by outside experts, trainees also feel more relaxed… and a relaxed mind enjoys a much greater potential for learning than a panicked mind.  

Memory is largely a component of attention and interest.  Seminar learning depends entirely upon a highly memorable performer using highly visual speaking tactics as “grabbers.”  Humor is participative, so that works… to a point.  The best podium performers, however, are not cost effective for everyday organizational learning, and most are rarely effective in transferring memorable content other than jokes and antics.  Pure entertainment only goes so far in expediting and safeguarding learning. Entertainment can be a tactic but should not overpower the presentation.  An outside trainer expert with audience adaptation, learning assessment and train the trainer technique is the company’s best cost-efficient and reliable methodology. Surveys repeatedly reveal that lack of confidence in a supervisor or trainer is a primary reason for resignation.  Training flaws create unnecessary turnover and loss of training investment.  Company time is company money.

For additional details on learning survey outcomes and examples of training videos, please visit





Jessica Ollenburg - Wednesday, March 31, 2010