“The music man, his prices will amaze you, guaranteed to please because he’s the music man. The music man, it’s the place to go, 648 1230!”
This TV jingle is rattling around my head, and it won’t go away. As far as I can place it, it’s from the mid 1980’s, when I was a child; a time when I sponged up everything I heard.
For all I know, the business that used the jingle went out of business decades ago. Certainly phone numbers in Australia have gone from 7 digits to 8 in the time since. So with no utility, it frustratingly still occupies valuable space in my overloaded brain. Meanwhile I try to remember people’s names at critical times, but no luck. So what to do? Fight it or go with it?
A couple of years ago I became a little obsessed with memory pegs. Around that time I was running a five day workshop and we had made it to “system training Friday”. It was 3pm, heads were nodding, but not to answer a question in the affirmative, if you know what I mean. A change of state was needed and I’d used all my tricks. So, in sheer desperation…
“No system training for 10 minutes, guys. We are going to learn memory pegs.”
I started with my own favourite:
MACDOC (Multiply Australian Currency, Divide Overseas Currency).
A simple acronym, it helped me when I was a bank teller to understand what to do with an exchange rate in the time before a computer would do it for me (wow, how old does that make me?). The participants really liked it when I shared it, so I asked them for their own all-time hall-of-famer memory pegs. The best one (which I still use today) was:
Lefty-loosey, righty-tighty.
Alliterative and rhyming, it has helped me to remember which ways to screw/unscrew anything (except gas-fittings, so I am told!).
So the concept works, but what about applicability in the training room? Personally I haven’t had much success with things that work for an entire group, not something that beats a good story anyway.
One common activity of this nature I have used is to have a group alphabetise key learnings, when they are back in the room after lunch or back for another day. It involves simply listing key-words or phrases against the 26 letters of the alphabet on the flipchart. The best outcomes from this activity seems to be to retrieving the knowledge from the learners to a certain level, rather than creating a permanent anchor.
I remember sharing a couple of days with Colin James, a compelling facilitator, for some professional development. In amongst learning some amazing things, I remember being exposed to the notion of colours as anchors for different learnings. I look forward to exploring this further one day.
My theory is that memory pegs have to be really unique and special to prevail against jingles from 30 years ago. Perhaps converting learnings into music lyrics within the workshops is the next frontier for facilitation…

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