Motivational speakers and overcoming the Law of Forgetting


law of forgetting hire a motivational speaker

Despite what most of us wish, we don’t have a photographic memory, and especially when it comes to building new skills or changing habits, we don’t just learn something once and then immediately remember it and integrate it forever. 

That being said, the key is not just in having a motivational speaker come and speak at an event to make the topic more memorable; it is in the repetition and putting it immediately into practice that makes all the difference. Unfortunately, many companies are not doing anything beyond the motivational speaker address.

Suppose you are planning an event and have an objective and desired impact. Why not hire a motivational speaker that offers more than just the event?  Look for a motivational speaker who has additional resources or an extended program to help your people retain and implement beyond the event.

Let’s take a step back and discuss why people forget. Have you ever felt that information is just on the edge of your memory but try as you might, you can’t remember it even though you’ve heard or seen it just earlier in the day? For example, remembering the article you read yesterday, a phone conversation with a friend last week, or even what you had for breakfast a few days ago, you remember for a day or forget it in just a few hours after learning it.

This is the law of forgetting. Yes, this is a real thing.

What is the law of forgetting?

graph showing the law of forgetting - motivational speaker

This graph has since been adapted into a “law” when it comes to primary memory function.  There is a direct curve showing the decline of memory retention over time, earning it the nickname “the forgetting curve” designed by German psychology, Hermann Ebbinghaus

This curve depicts the rate at which we forget, and how much we forget.  No wonder you can’t remember the details of the great motivational speaker. All you remember is it left you feeling inspired, but the details are fuzzy.

Within the first day, we would forget as much as 40% of what we had learned, and then, 4 days later, we could have retained less than 20% of the original content learned. 

This, of course, is just an average rating.  Some people have excellent memories where more of the lesson could be retained. Some have especially poor memories where even less of the content is retained.

If we learn something new and do nothing about relearning, we remember less and less time goes by Click To Tweet

Training and the law of forgetting

With this in mind, then, having to hire a motivational speaker to help energize and train your employees is great, but arguably ineffective, seeing as most people will forget all about it within several days.

Understanding the law of forgetting and working with it, instead of against it, can better all kinds of training.  When it comes to employees and helping them adjust to a job or take in new education on their job, it really helps to focus on implementing tricks to interrupt the curve of forgetting as much as possible.

As a motivational speaker and trainer, I incorporate interactivity and engagement that make a memorable impact. I use stories, objects, metaphors, and engagement to create a lasting impact. This helps to extend the power and impact of the event. Let’s talk about how you can help your motivational speaker events have great impact ad long-lasting results and overcome the law of forgetting:

While the curve and its law can’t be changed, our habits and techniques can. Let’s talk about easy strategies you can apply today to help you overcome the challenge of the law of forgetting.

Our memory weakens over time, making it challenging to learn new things. But with, self-care, emotion-provoking, and other sensible strategies, we can keep our memory strong


Top 5 Strategies to Overcome the Law of Forgetting

1. Simplify

To help the mind lock in training, focus on clear and relevant information and present it in a simplified form. Simple visuals, metaphors, acronyms, and frameworks The simpler it is, and the more relatable it is, the harder it is to forget.  It makes it easy to repeat and allows for quicker recall.


2. Reinforce at regular intervals

After the motivational speaker speaks or a corporate training and development meeting, the next stage helps training stick in the employees’ memories. For example, 48 hours after the training sessions, send a reminder email with focused bullet points to refresh the memory in the employees’ minds.  Then, follow up with that in another email or another meeting 48 hours after that.  The more that you do this, the better retention everyone is going to have.

I often have people take a quiz before the event to prime the event, then we have the event and discuss the quiz. Here is one example. This can be done before or after an event with a series of follow-ups from the motivational speaker or your team.

Besides, it is also important to apply that knowledge as soon as possible. According to an HBR study, 75% of newly learned information is lost if it isn’t applied on the job within six days. 

Check it out and take the quiz.

distraction quiz 3. Interactive and Experiential

Whether it’s an in-person or online training, the more interactive the training is, the better the retention rate.  Instead of just being passive listeners in a session, make the training interactive in some form.

I love interactive exercises because it helps people apply the principles to their lives and make it personal. Also, when people experience something for themselves, they take it deeper into their nervous system. That is what makes it stick.

I do many one-off motivational speaker engagements, but I especially love the multi-week training where we can do much deeper interactive work that can be done between sessions as homework and follow up and re-enforce the lessons and principles through everyday use.

For example, I do a course on presentation skills for senior executives, salespeople, and account executives. This is very interactive with peer reviews in session and homework to use the skills between sessions to deepen the lesson and how it applies to their day-to-day. I hear all the time how this repetition and interaction helped them in a key presentation they had to make.

The more that the employee engages with it directly, the more they’ll remember.

Any way you can add fun and games to the learning process, the better it’ll be for your employees’ long-term retention, plus it’ll be a lot more relaxing (see below).  Then, there’s the positive impact that employees will actually enjoy training sessions instead of dreading them.  An employee can’t remember correctly if they aren’t there to learn, after all, right?

Our memory weakens over time, making it challenging to learn new things. But with, self-care, emotion-provoking, and other sensible strategies, we can keep our memory strong Click To Tweet

4. Connect with Emotion

There were many points to consider with the original law of forgetting, and two of the criteria included emotional interaction. When you were emotionally connected to what you were hearing, such as having a motivational speaker share a personal experience and tell a powerful story, you were more likely to store details better and easier.  It is easier for employees to recall those emotionally connected stories rather than just information.

Often people enter the corporate  event with the mindset that “I don’t have the time,” “this will be boring,” or “I wish I didn’t have to be here.” That can hinder that employee’s ability to learn and retain what the motivational speaker or trainer will present.

Having a motivational speaker warm and relax the audience with icebreakers can go a long way towards shifting the energy and create a positive learning environment.

5. Sensory

The more senses you engage, the more wiring being created in your brain. Wherever possible, engage people in an experience and /or tell stories that engage the senses.

Forgetting isn’t curable, but the law of forgetting is real.

It is clear; there is no way for management teams to ensure that their employees remember every single detail after they hire a motivational speaker to host an event offering lots of insights on how they can enhance their capabilities.

However, understanding the law of forgetting and carefully selecting your motivational speaker and/or trainer to maximize the impact of these recall factors will increase your return on investment and better support your team.