Imagine yourself in a traditional workplace-learning environment.

Who’s doing the talking and moving around? Who’s got the ideas? Who’s excited, eager, and energized?

Easy, right?

It’s the teacher, the teacher, and the teacher.

Fact is, though, whoever is doing the talking is doing the learning. So, here’s a whole new big idea: the 70/30 Principle.

The 70/30 Principle represents three seismic shifts that, together, turn our old and tired traditional learning model on its head. In rebalancing the learning equation, the principle shines a light on the learner, not the teacher; swings the emphasis to “how” teachers teach, not “what” teachers teach; and stimulates active learning, not passive learning. The result is that teachers truly energize and engage learners and, better still, turn learning into action.

What are these three seismic shifts that can rock your organization’s learning? To teachers everywhere, read them—and reap:

1. Learners do 70 percent of the talking—and 30 percent of the listening

Learners, not teachers, must be center stage, actively learning. This can’t, and won’t, happen when you are doing most of the talking and learners are doing most of the listening. Shift your focus from talking to listening.

2. Teachers spend 70 percent of their preparation on how they will teach—and 30 percent on what they will teach

If you’re like most teachers, you devote more time to preparing your content than to figuring out how you will teach that content. Shift your focus from what you will teach to how you will teach, creating a variety of activities and embedding best learning
practices into your designs.

3. Learners spend 70 percent of their time practicing—and 30 percent of their time being taught

To embed learning, let learners practice, practice, practice. The more people participate in hands-on practice, the more likely they’ll turn their learnings into action and succeed on their own. Shift your focus from teaching to practicing.

Victoria Halsey, Ph.D., is a leading expert in workplace learning and author of Brilliance by Design: Creating Learning Experiences That Connect, Inspire, and ENGAGE (Berrett-Koehler, 2011). Vice President of Applied Learning at The Ken Blanchard Companies, she is a sought-after instructional designer, consultant and trainer, and keynote speaker. Contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..