Making CPD memorable

If none of the participants remember your CPD seminar you have pretty much wasted your time. And if anybody recalls your seminar for the wrong reasons you will definitely have wasted your time.

Perhaps this article should really be called ‘Making your CPD memorable for all the right reasons’ because there is memorable good and there is memorable bad. So let us consider the things that will help your information to be recalled for its usefulness, plus we will look at a few common errors that reduce remembrance or even create unpleasant memories.

Short term memory

How memory, short term and long term, works is worth mentioning as it is relevant to presentations. In essence it is only the stuff that catches our attention (like a surprise) or because we need it soon (like a telephone number) that goes into short term memory.

We hold this short term data for about half a minute. And we cannot hold much of it, about seven things. Then, to cut a long story short, that information which may help us in the future goes into our long term memory.

For CPD this means that long lists on slides don’t work, you’re better off having more slides with fewer words on each.

CPD must be useful

The important first step in making your CPD memorable is to get people to want to go. And that means you have to have the right subject. CPD has to be relevant, useful, unique and applicable.

Easy to understand

Comprehension and memorability are inhibited by words that are difficult to understand easily; so keep your language simple. But construction audiences are not stupid so do not talk down to them. Nevertheless don’t use a long word if a short one will do. On a pragmatic note, short words fit your slides better as well.

Avoid technobabble! You are speaking as an expert in your field, be proud of what you know; but beware of overly technical talk and jargon, they are the enemies of understanding.

People remember solutions

You need to cover technicalities but the memorable bits will be those that your audience can relate to, so talk about solutions and making their life easier by making jobs easier, safer, quicker, less costly, more environmentally efficient and so on.

And show the solutions. People recognise and remember what other people have done, and they like the reassurance that they are not the first. All in all an ideal opportunity to show your products in the context of successful projects.


Good design won’t be noticed. The design of a CPD presentation, like that of a website or brochure, has to be attractive yet it must not get in the way of the message. Good design is rarely noticed, whilst poor design is frequently all too memorable.

So your CPD slides should appear attractive, professional, clean, one might even say tasteful. Things that whiz in and leap up will reduce understanding. People remember the flashing bits and pieces instead of your message. Just because you can do all manner of allegedly creative things doesn’t mean that you should.

Common errors

And then there are things you can do that will reduce the memorability of your CPD. The number one error is having slides without your company name on them.

Beware of having too much on a slide. For instance too much text or complicated tables can become unreadable and almost certainly impossible to explain.

Beware of having lots of small images, especially if they need separate explanation or do not add to the presentation. Do not use poor quality images.

Clip art – No! Never ever use clip art. The essence of marketing is differentiation. Yet clip art by its very nature is generic and so can never differentiate your message or your products.

Check and double check every word. Mistakes are easy to miss when you’re in the office going over your presentation for days. But you can be sure that when your words are projected several feet high on a wall, any mistakes will leap out and you will be remembered for the wrong reasons.

Memory joggers

Remember what was said at the start, long term memories are a collection of pointers, hints and cues – so givaways like highlighters etc might be the spur that helps, but don’t rely on such things if you haven’t got the basics right.


As well as being a CIMCIG committee member and a judge at the Construction Marketing Awards, Rick Osman is a director of construction marketing agency Highwire Design Ltd,; he can be contacted at You can follow his all-too-occasional construction marketing tips on Twitter @highwire_design. For more information about construction marketing visit