One of the major challenges in every seminar is to maximize information retention.
One can assume that the average listener remembers only between 10-20% of the information given in a lecture. That's too little. Way too little.
By using some easy tricks, there's a chance to increase information retention up to 90% and get way more out of a seminar. Efficiency is key.
Here are 6 great tricks to boost knowledge retention in seminars:
1. Take notes. Many notes. Notes of everything.
A seminar or a lecture is not the place to decide what has to be written down and what not. There's plenty of time afterward to do that. That means: at a seminar, take note of everything. This way you minimize the chance of missing any information. The more notes you take the better it is. There's plenty of time to organize your notes after.
2. Review your notes constantly - until you know them all
While working with the Hungarian Short Track Speedskating National Team from 2010 to 2012, every third weekend from April until September, I flew to Budapest to assess and train the National Team.
Coming on Friday, leaving on Sunday. It took me 3.5 hours by trip from YPSI to my hotel at the Icerink in Budapest including subway, plane and taxi ride. I used this time exclusively to review my seminar notes. That's 7 hours of review every third weekend - 8 weekends per off-season.
By doing so, I was able to memorize all the notes taken during my seminars, so that I'm able to tell which information was presented and where and when it was presented. Having my seminar notes committed to memory allows me to find the information much faster than if I would have to search for it in my notes
3. Optimize information retention with a great breakfast
One of the easiest and most efficient ways to improve concentration and attention span is a great breakfast.
A mix of high quality protein and healthy fats is what I highly recommend.
My personal breakfast favorites on seminar days are
– Bison burger, medium rare, with cashews
– Omelet with slices of steak, mushrooms and provolone
– Filet, medium rare, with poached eggs and béarnaise sauce
As a beverage, my favorites are Lime & Salt Water before and organic iced coffee with breakfast.
That is the easiest and most efficient way to increase the neurotransmitters acetylcholine and dopamine, and keep your blood glucose levels stable and therefore your energy level constantly high, which will maximize information retention during a seminar.
4. Review your notes in clusters
Clusters are intermittent blocks. The most prominent cluster is the pomodoro technique, which separates work into 30min blocks to increase productivity. How? Quite simple! You are working for 25 minutes than you are taking 5 minutes off. This is great to increase information retention while decreasing fatigue during learning. The same principle can perfectly be used for reading books, too.
5. Take amino acids and electrolytes between meals
Another easy trick to keep blood glucose levels and energy levels constant and to maximize information retention during seminars is to consume amino acids and electrolytes in water between meals to stabilize the blood sugar. Electrolytes are also crucial for the electrical activity of neurons, thereby increasing concentration, attention and information retention.
I use and recommend YPSI Amino Electrolyte Complex, especially due to the high phosphorous content and filtered water at seminars, to get the most out of the information provided.
6. Optimize your concentration and attention levels through diet and supplementation
The neurotransmitters acetylcholine and dopamine are key to maximize attention and information reception. There are several supplements that help to increase both neurotransmitters. 3 of those are:
Alpha GPC – L-Alpha Glycerylphosphorylcholine is a natural phospholipid. It is an important building block of all brain cells. GPC plays an important role in information transmission between cells. Alpha-GPC is a natural precursor of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is responsible for concentration, attention, memory, and other cognitive functions. Alpha GPC is highly bioavailable as a source of choline and easily passes the blood-brain barrier.
My recommendation: 1200 mg prior to breakfast and lunch, each
Acetyl-L-Carnitine – Acetyl-L-carnitine is a form of the carnitine that easily passes the blood-brain barrier. The carnitine component plays an important role in the mitochondrial energy production of the brain. And the acetyl group is a precursor for the acetylcholine synthesis. Acetyl-L-carnitine also works very well for improving memory and brain function in general.
My recommendation: Up to 6-8g total in water prior to breakfast and lunch
Bacopa Monnieri – Bacopa Monnieri has been used for thousands of years to improve learning ability in traditional ayurvedic medicine. The bacosides it contains do have a positive effect on dopamine and acetylcholine. They also possess antioxidant properties and increase neurogenesis.
My recommendation: 300mg with breakfast and lunch
For 4 years, I have been flying around the globe for 8-14 weeks a year to attend seminars, conferences and internships. Being able to retain and process the maximum amount of information was crucial to get the most out of these educational trips.
These tricks can also be used in school, university and any other educational events like the YPSI Seminars …
Picture: My internship at Clemson University with Preston Greene was definitely one of the best learning experiences in the early days of my education as a Strength Coach.