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Repetition + Reinforcement = Retention: Online Training Is the Key

Neuroscience research and experience indicate that with only one exposure to new material, we quickly forget most of what we learned

by Patricia Fripp
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Successfully tying your shoe laces; learning the Pledge of Allegiance, memorizing multiplication facts or the periodic table; conjugating irregular verbs in Spanish: what do these things have in common? They were all mastered through repetitive attempts. From a very young age, we began to achieve retention through repetition, and that strategy still applies for mastering new content and new skills in business

However, when your employees attend a conference, a seminar, a board meeting, a class, etc., even if they listen carefully, take notes, study the handouts, and relate the material to their personal experiences, they will not be able to recall all of the most critical and relevant points. Neuroscience research and experience indicate that with only one exposure to the material this is the governing reality.  

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After the in-person training, the next critical component for retention is reinforcement through repetition. Even the most skilled, artful, and memorable trainers will impact an audience’s brains with very limited retention in one presentation. True retention comes from repeated exposure and practice of the skills that are taught, and that is why online training makes sense.

Why should you invest in online training for your company? Because you are a professional, and you want your employees to be professional in their interactions with their colleagues, with your competition, with potential clients, with everyone they encounter as they represent your company. 

No matter what your profession is, you are smart enough to know that the future belongs to the competent. True success comes to those who are more multifaceted in their competence; those who seek out relationships with others in other disciplines, in and out of their companies; those who are always ready and willing to learn something new. 

The value of investing in online training cannot be underestimated. This is especially relevant to the person who makes decisions around funding of training and development. When companies invest in online training programs, they reap multiple benefits: 

1. An opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to the personal progress and growth of your associates in your workplace. Many younger associates will stay longer, work harder, and be more committed to companies that help them learn skills that will last a lifetime.

 2. Ensuring that your capabilities keep pace with the current standards of others in the same field. Companies are always competing for the best available talent. However, most recruit the best they can find with the right attitude and then train for skills that are required.

3. Many industries require continuing education credits for employees, and many online training programs qualify for continuing education certification. A continuing education program can lead to increased public confidence in individual professionals and their profession as a whole. When comparing individuals for promotion and new opportunities, those who actively seek professional accreditation have an advantage.

4. Continuing education programs link employees who have similar job responsibilities. They may also connect employees to programs that help them discover new opportunities available to them within the company. Smart managers continue to communicate this message in their team meetings. Ambitious professionals realize that continuing education is a non-taxable fringe benefit. Employees of companies with multiple locations can study together and consider the friendship and comradery an amazing bonus.

5. When you provide employees with access to resources, not only will they feel like they are gaining value from their relationship with their employer, but they will also be empowered to develop their professional skills (e.g.,  lunch-and-learn programs that also offer continuing education).

6. Funding online training will multiply the value of in-person training by generating employee practices that will produce tangible results. As this is usually a fraction of the cost of in-person training, more associates can benefit from the knowledge.

7. Workforces in companies are often spread across a wide area, and it may not be convenient or financially sustainable to send representatives from each area to a conference or training. Some managers are incorporating segments of the well-prepared and well-presented content from nationally known experts into their staff meetings. Many small companies in Canada that provide company retreats build online training modules into their agendas. Again, this is an affordable way to learn from experts you would never be in a position to bring in.

8. Employees can access the online training at times and in locations that are convenient and practical for them. As many online programs are very well produced and have a “gamified” feel to them, employees are more likely to watch on their mobile devices on their own time. 

When your employees, your colleagues, your managers, or executives experience presentations, it is important for them to have opportunities to revisit the training.  The impact of having quality online training available cannot be underestimated. 

Just like learning to tie shoelaces, being able to revisit those lessons through virtual online training can make all the difference in whether those skills are imbedded and become skills that have a powerful and enduring impact for your company.

About the Author

Patricia Fripp is a Hall of Fame keynote speaker, presentation skills expert, and creator of the innovative virtual training on powerful, persuasive presentations. Kiplinger Personal Finance magazine wrote that the sixth best way to invest in your career is to learn presentation skills from Patricia Fripp. To see how you and your employees can become great presenters easily, conveniently, and quickly, take a trial at