Those of you who are involved in teaching know that there are a lot of different techniques that you can use to help people retain information. For instance, you can provide clear learning objectives, speak conversationally, and repeatedly reinforce the most critical points. But now there’s something new that you can try!  You can shock people into learning!

According to author and public speaker Brian Tracy, people tend to remember information that strongly conflicts with what they previously believed. If people are shocked by what they hear, they’re more likely to remember it. Tracy calls this “Shock Learning” and it does seem to make sense. I recently learned a shocking piece of information about astronaut ice cream, and I know I will not soon forget it!

But how exactly can you shock your learners? Well, you could providing them with a surprising fact or statistic. Or you could present them with a shocking bar graph or pie chart. As long as it’s relevant to what you’re teaching, it can be an effective technique.

Just don’t be surprised if you get a little resistance. People sometimes feel uncomfortable when presented with data that contradicts their beliefs, so they may ignore or discount the information.


Shock learning. (2016). Talent Development, 70(1), 15.