By Gerry Murray. 27-09-2020
(Scroll down for a laugh)

"Of the five senses, smell is the one with the best memory." ~ Rebecca McClanahan

In the last of my posts on memory, I’d like to share with you seven ways that you can enhance your memory and improve your learning. These are particularly useful for formal practitioners such as trainers or teachers and even students. 

However, we often find ourselves in situations where we have to teach others something. For example, a manager often has to teach a new employee how to do certain things. Or, colleagues may be asked to do this. Or, parents need to support their children at school. 

You can easily explore these seven tips and discover what happens:

1 Links

Link something new to something you already know because this builds on your existing neuronal networks. I’ve written about these in previous posts

2 Emotion

Whilst we’d all like to think that everyone behaves rationally, emotions are a large part of what we remember. See my previous posts on the work of Daniel Kahneman. The important thing to note is that negative emotions tend to have more impact than positive ones because these often serve to keep you safe and out of danger. However, they’re not always that useful. Childhood experiences, such as being embarrassed by a teacher or laughed at by your classmates, can lead to you learning to avoid certain situations, such as presenting, for the rest of your life. Therefore, if you’re teaching someone something, making it enjoyable will create positive emotions and make it more memorable in a positive way.

3 Anchor the learning

Anchors are triggers of our behaviour. We stop at a red traffic light (visual anchor). A certain song will invoke a response (auditory anchor). A certain type of touch gets a certain response (kinaesthetic anchor). A certain type of smell will trigger off a certain memory or behavioural response. So, create associations that trigger off positive memories. 

4 Repetition and meaning

I’ve mentioned repetition many times before. I’ve mentioned repetition many times before. I’ve mentioned repetition many times before. However, you can repeat a poem many times and still not remember it afterwards. On the other hand, when something is meaningful to you it becomes more memorable with repetition. 

5 Novelty and meaning

We pay attention to difference. This is part of our safety response mechanism and your amygdala records these differences for future reference. Novelty raises our attention levels and contributes to this phenomenon when the novelty itself has meaning for us. 

6 Stories and meaning

Who doesn’t enjoy a good story? I use stories and metaphors all the time when I give training because I’ve noticed that people remember things better. However, there are some subtle nuances to how you craft and tell a story that can make it more memorable than others. This is perhaps for another time. 

7 Organisation and chunking

Chunking refers to the size of the information content. If it’s too large or too small it can be difficult for people to remember it because it’s either too vague or too detailed. Helping people categorise their information in a way that works best for them enables them to attach meaning to it. This will aid recall of that information later when they need it. 

If you’re interested in learning more about what’s going on in our brains when we are learning then I can highly recommend Stella Collins’ book “Neuroscience for Learning & Development”. It’s a practical read that is directed at Learning and Development professionals. 

However, even if you’re not an L & D professional you can still learn a lot from this book that will enable you to evaluate learning, training or teaching. It might be useful before you sign up and pay a lot of money for a course...



A man is stumbling through the woods, totally drunk, when he comes upon a preacher baptizing people in the river.
He proceeds to walk into the water and subsequently bumps into the preacher... 
The preacher turns around and is almost overcome by the smell of alcohol, whereupon he asks the drunk, 
'Are you ready to find Jesus?' 
The drunk shouts, 'Yes, I am.' 
So the preacher grabs him and dunks him in the water. 
He pulls him up and asks the drunk, 'Brother have you found Jesus?' 
The drunk replies, 'No, I haven't found Jesus.' 
The preacher shocked at the answer, dunks him Into the water again for a little longer. 
He again pulls him out of the water and asks again, 'Have you found Jesus, my brother?' 
The drunk again answers, 'No, I haven't found Jesus.' 
By this time the preacher is at his wit's end and dunks the drunk in the water again --- 
But this time holds him down for about 30 seconds and when he begins kicking his arms and legs so he pulls him up. 
The preacher again asks the drunk, 'For the love of God have you found Jesus?'
The drunk wipes his eyes and catches his breath and says to the preacher, 
'Are you sure this is where he fell in?'

Do you know what really smells?
A nose.

If your nose runs and your feet smell are you built upside down?

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