Have you ever wondered why people look so bored when leaders talk too much or lecture? I'm not sure why we still equate talking with teaching ... when research shows us that lectures actually work against the human brain. Brains require workouts to learn and grow ... while lectures foster a coach potato mentality. How so?
After four to eight minutes of listening to a talk ... the brightest brains in the room seek other adventures. It’s not necessarily that all speakers bore listeners ... but more the fact that brains were not made to be lectured. Research shows why ... and yet teaching practices have yet to adapt to active learning that inspires creativity and invention, for instance.
For example the working memory holds a pinch of information only, and if not applied or used in some way, the facts evaporate to make space for incoming data. From the brain's perspective ... you learn more and better retain it if you teach your dog ... than if you listen to lectures.
Look at people’s faces during a long talk and you’ll detect many daydreaming, a few sleeping, and others talking or passing notes to survive the feat.
Talking cannot provide the novelty or stimuli a brain needs to hold and apply information. That's why brains go elsewhere ... during long talks ... simply to find a fix.
A steady flow of facts in isolation ... or too many stories in a row ...exhaust and wear down the brain. In fact, people learn far less in talks than most realize. Imagine the waste of training dollars … especially when upstarts and trainees could anticipate and enjoy learning ... if it fit their brains and improved their situation. Think of the transformational benefits that could come to any organization.
You may be asking ... if not lectures or talks – then what approaches would support learning new concepts?
Brain based approaches, for instance, move multiple intelligences into the learning mix. Engage learners with one or two stories to provide a context, then, list key data on a PowerPoint slide. Toss in a pair share opportunity where people can consider how their experience or knowledge links to the session's theme.
Ask two-footed questions to engage participants' interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences. This non-lecture approach activates and prepares other cognitive parts of the brain for storing new information.
Facts can be digested easier when humor links learners' lives to related concepts. Access multiple ways of learning, and the brain begins to reinforce new concepts, the way people learn best. Play certain music, for instance, and memory tends to increase.
It’s more about bobbing and weaving among facts, and across people’s intellectual capabilities to integrate a unique mix of intelligences in ways that improve what participants do. In fact learning should be more about participants anyway....
So, if lectures are to brains what stormclouds are to picnics ... why have they survived without much challenge by lecturers? The answer may surprise you....
Lectures offer as huge an asset to that one person talking ... as they become a learning detriment to listeners? While talk's quite futile for passive hearers ... lecturers' brains, in contrast ... spike new brain cell connections to increase their knowledge on any topic they teach. Why so?
Surprisingly ... teachers retain 90% more through the process of lecturing, according to National Training Institute in 1999. Can you see why lectures hang on?
If you compare big benefits that lectures offer to speakers ... with the boredom listeners experience from winded words ... you begin to understand why lectures rarely add value or lasting renewal to your workplace. What do you think?