To really learn and retain information, you need to practice it or better yet, teach it! 

You’ve probably seen versions of this pyramid outlining the most effective ways to build a learner’s retention of material.  It shows that students and other people trying to learn new information only retain 5% or less of the information they hear in a lecture or presentation.  When this is combined with reading on the topic or even signing up for a ZOOM or other live online webinar, the overall retention rate results in less than 50% of the material presented. 

But look again, and you will see that those who are learning kinesthetically can achieve retention rates of 50, even 90 percent, by being challenged to participate in a group discussion, practice doing exercises with the material just learned, or, the ultimate, being required to teach someone else something they learned.  

Many of the landscape companies I work with will send one or a few individuals to a webinar or conference and, in return, ask that those individuals come back ready to teach the rest of the group what they learned.  Believe me, those people listen and ask questions, are filling out their own outlines of how they will convey the materials, and actively applying the concepts to their day-to-day workflow.  

Here’s an example.  We sent two managers to a two-day seminar that was designed to teach “non-financial” executives and managers why financial analysis was important and which parts they could use to manage the company’s bottom line.   We had eight account managers at this level but could only stand to send two at the same time based on the time of year.  Those two were required as part of their attendance to return to the office and teach the concepts they learned at the seminar.  

Their co-workers grilled them on questions that showed their understanding of active learning.  We ended up offering a two-part session over lunch and learns in subsequent weeks to provide backup training to that group.  Once they were confident, that group of eight then presented the same material to their other team members.  Sample exercises, quizzes, and one on one sessions were offered as a part of the effort.  In the end, those that taught what they had learned (and build tools relevant to their needs to do that teaching) reported that:

  • They finally understood how some of the profitability measures affected what they did on a realistic level, 
  • that they felt more empowered since they were trusted with key information about team profitability and encouraged to find ways to “move the needle” to improve it and 
  • they believed that the company valued them since this investment of time and energy was made in them to improve their knowledge about how the company performed. 

Ultimately, people like to learn by doing, practicing, being active, and using new material.  It is so much more satisfying than listening to talking heads! 

If you’d like to learn something new about your exit plan, selling or buying a business in the landscape industry, or other related topics, please contact me for a conversation.  I may ask you to take a quiz at the end (just kidding!), but I can say we can help you determine your readiness for sale, selling or buying a company, or integrating a company you’ve acquired.

I can be reached anytime via email: [email protected] or phone at: 224-688-8838.

We’re here to help you Harvest Your Potential!


Alison Hoffman

has more than 25 years of experience in strategy, operations, mergers and acquisitions and delivering business-to-business client solutions. Her areas of expertise include managing operations for profitable growth, organizational design and strategy activation. She brings a wealth of experience through her work in evaluating, valuing and purchasing over 30 companies, leading company-wide cultural and business integration projects and consolidating best practices among business processes and corresponding computing systems. Read Full Bio