The 3 Biggest Takeaways from My First ATD Meeting

Whether you are developing eLearning content for an internal client, an external client, or, in my case, providing the voice for that eLearning content, it’s a good idea to have a good understanding of your client’s business and the challenges they face.

Back in the day when I owned a radio station (and yes, there really was a time when giant corporations didn’t own them all,) I always encouraged my sales reps to learn as much as they could about their clients’ businesses so they could understand the challenges of running those businesses from their clients’ point of view. I urged my salespeople to go as far as to ask their clients for copies of the trade magazines they read so they could learn more about their clients’ industries. Whether it was a car dealer, a furniture store, or a restaurant, I wanted our sales people to be a sustaining resource for their clients. It was part of the consultant-sales approach we used that set us apart from the “We’re #1” and “Our rates are cheaper” approaches the other stations used.

So, with that in mind, I headed off to my very first ATD meeting, held at the Alamo Café. It’s a well-known Mexican food restaurant here in San Antonio that inspired the food porn you see above. And no, the 3 biggest takeaways weren’t the 3 enchiladas!

Here are the 3 biggest takeaways I got from the meeting:

1. A study by Microsoft-Canada showed that in only 13 years, the average human attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds. (By comparison, a goldfish has an attention span of 9 seconds.) As you can imagine, this has major implications for both training and learning.

2. A good source for free images and videos for your e-Learning projects is After the meeting, I visited the website myself and found the images to be of very high quality. They are copyright free, royalty-free, and attribution is not required.

3. As much as 80% of what is learned is forgotten in 30 days. This is because the brain needs 3 or more instances of retrieval in 30 days in order to make learning “stick.” One way to get 3 instances of retrieval is to test the learner 3 times in 30 days. Although the speaker didn’t say it, I took this to mean that the traditional e-Learning method of having a learner sit through a page-turner and then take a test at the end may not result in much retention.

So there you have it. My introduction to ATD. And a rewarding one it was! Many thanks to James Hilburn, Technical Design, and Development Lead at SWBC, for an excellent presentation.

Author: Greg Thomas

Greg Thomas is a 25-year veteran of the voiceover industry who specializes in e-Learning, corporate narration, and commercials. e-Learning clients have reported that his narration increased the liveliness and interactivity quotient of their courses. His deep, warm voice has been heard on thousands of projects for clients in the United States, Europe, and the Middle East, including Verizon, Irwin Vice Grips, DuPont Pioneer, and the New York Red Bulls Soccer Team. He also has ILT experience as a classroom trainer for a Fortune 100 company, and understands first-hand the importance of keeping training engaging and interesting. His studio is approved by the World Voices Organization, a member-driven international association of voice actors. You can reach Greg at He usually responds within 24 hours.

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