The Learning Equation That Will Revolutionize Your Training

December 30, 2020
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In your opinion, do you think training is effective? 

How do you usually feel after a training experience? 

Think about your training experiences over the past few years. You likely spent about 30-50 hours of time in ‘training,’ whether it be keynote speeches, in-person seminars, or online training.  Yet, it is likely you cannot remember more than 2 or 3 concepts that were presented during those trainings. It is even less likely that you implemented more than one skill that fundamentally changed your on-the-job performance. 

So… does this mean you’re a terrible student? 

No, it doesn’t. 

Good news! If we take a closer look, the problem is NOT you! The problem is likely the instructional design of the learning experience. (Phew!) 


The first thing we must understand is that learning is NOT simply recalling facts. Learning is producing a fundamental CHANGE IN BEHAVIOR, which leads to a desired outcome. 


Learning (or behavior change) is created by fulfilling an essential equation: 

Emotion + Experience = Learning 

To help give you an idea of a REAL learning experience, reflect on this example: 

When was the last time you completely failed because of something silly, like speeding and getting pulled over, leaving too late for a flight, or eating something that did not mix well with your tummy? Seeing the flashing lights behind you, running like crazy to catch the flight, or feeling awful…well… you probably remember that. 

Why?  Because this was highly emotional AND experiential. After that experience, you decided to be more prepared: try to leave earlier for the flight, slow it down, or avoid that ice cream. That is behavior change! It was a TRUE learning experience. 

When an experience is highly emotional and highly experiential (you are physically engaged either through discussion or physical work), you have a much higher degree of behavior change in the future. 


The simple answer is, poor instructional design. Let’s take a look at some of these learning experiences the way they’re usually designed, and to see why they will always fail you. 

Keynotes are high in emotion but lack a physical experience. We have all had the feeling of being completely jazzed after attending a keynote, thinking, “I am going to change the world!” Unfortunately, most of us revert back to our pre-keynote behavior within 15 minutes of departing. 

In most in-person seminars, you experience the process, like creating the excel document, or practicing that sales technique. However, they are extremely low in emotional intensity. Without an emotional connection, when you want to recall the physical action that you took, your mind has struggles with the ability to re-discover that skill. 

And then there are those poorly designed online learning experiences, like voice over PowerPoint.  This format lacks both emotion and experience, and usually you will walk away with nothing of value to bring to your work performance. Corporate training and certification programs have moved in this direction for compliance and cost-effective reasons, only to see participants leave with zero behavior change. 


Hope is not lost! Follow the learning equation (Emotion + Experience = Learning), and next time you design a learning experience, consider these questions: 

  • How will you design the experience so that it truly pulls out emotion from the participants? 
  • How will you provide the participants an experience that allows them to practice a physical skill or an effective decision-making process? 

So you see, you are not a terrible student, nor are the people that you lead. Rather the learning experiences created are not setup to produce behavior change. It’s an instructional design issue, not a mind issue. 

Need some help designing learning experiences? Contact us today, we’ll have you and your team walk away with some serious behavior change. 

Until then, keep learning! 

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