Making Training Fun


What if something as simple as fun could be the easiest way to change people’s behavior for the better? I just watched this video from http://www.thefuntheory.com/.

What if we applied the fun principle to our teaching and training? What if we used fun to change organizational culture?

What making training fun is NOT:  Fun is not the same as funny; it is not having the trainer tell jokes. It is not saying: “OK, now we are going to have fun and play a game.” I am usually looking for the nearest escape when I hear someone say that!

What making training fun IS. It is making training relevant, desirable and interesting rather than boring. Here are a few practical ideas:

Listen for what motivates and drives people. Engage them. My professor and friend, Ray Wheeler, engaged me in class. He spent a half hour of his class time facilitating our cohort in solving my personal question. Ray clued into the emotion behind my question. Too often we hear a comment and begin to judge, formulate a response, or think of our own related story. I was ready to learn anything from him after that.

Teaching is not about the teacher; it is about the learner. Individuals may be auditory, visual, or kinesthetic learners. They may process information internally (by thinking and reflecting) or externally (by verbally processing with others). Does our training take that into consideration?

Wrap your training in a metaphor.  I ate grilled dove at a friend’s house this summer. It was OK. It was even more appetizing when it was wrapped in bacon. Just about anything wrapped in bacon is more desirable. The same is true with our training. When you wrap teaching with a story, metaphor or meta-narrative, it is much more interesting. Listeners will remember it much longer. Perhaps that is why Craig Chappelow, a leadership author and contributor on Fast Company says it is better to read good fiction for lasting lessons.

Employ a variety of methods. Are you stuck in the lecture mode? I know we all have information to convey, but minds begin to wander after seven minutes. If you want to convey info, go right ahead. But people will tune out and retain little. Remember these percentages:

learning pyramidUse adult learning methods. See earlier post on 5 Important Reminders for Teaching Adults. Here are a few more practical ideas from some team members (Thanks Terry-her blog, Karen Z. and Barb B!)

  • Post ideas and learning on wall to refer to as training takes place
  • Invite participants to share from their experiences
  • Turn to the person next to them and share or answer a question
  • Use purposeful activities that help to illustrate the content
  • Allow time for discussion at tables or in small groups
  • Facilitate share out loud or in small groups one “take away”
  • Add video clips
  • Use role plays
  • Allow for questions
  • Use problem solving activities like case studies
  • Have participants stand up and/or move around the room to record ideas on poster pages or do some other activity
  • Let them teach you. Give groups a learning task that they present to the rest of the participants
  • Change pace every 30 minutes
  • Team teach
  • Change seating arrangements
  • Use interview style to present information
  • Allow for some silent/reflective time

Use open ended questions that help people discover answers for themselves, rather than being told what to do.

Better PowerPoints. Maybe I’ll write more on this later, but if you have a PowerPoint with all your lecture information crammed into bullet points on slides, you might as well just stay home and send people the presentation to read.  That could save everyone’s time!

Well, that is enough rant for one day. But, I constantly need the reminders to just add fun.  Perhaps you do too.  Just one question:

What have you done to add fun to training?

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About Steve Morgan

I work in Global Leadership Development with Cru with my wife, Terry. We have been married 30 years and have 4 grown children. We have a Masters in Global Leadership together through Azusa Pacific University. I generally write about 5 “L’s: Living Well, Loving Deeply, Learning Continuously, Leading Courageously and Leaving a Legacy. I occasionally write about Laughing Loudly. Subscribe on the right side to receive an email whenever there is a new post. I invite you to leave your comments so we can dialogue on the various topics and learn from each other. If you are new to the site, you might start with looking at some of the top posts or doing a search on the right side bar for one of the 5 “L’s” that interest you. Or you can view the blog archives for topics. Photo Credit: sarahjoellephotography.com
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10 Responses to Making Training Fun

  1. daylerogers says:

    You had me when you wrapped the dove in bacon. Yes, everything tastes better wrapped in bacon. Or story. Or humor. Thanks so much for these insights. Loved the piano stairs. Why do you think we’re so fearful of making learning fun? Brings to mind Patch Adams, the doctor that was so disrespected because he thought engaging patients in humor and hope would help heal them. Wouldn’t that work with leading?

    • Steve Morgan says:

      Thanks Dayle. Great connect with Patch Adams also. Great movie. You ask a great question. I am not sure it is a fear to make it fun. Maybe. What do you think? I wonder if it is just easier to lecture and give information. making it fun requires a whole other level of work and thought. Many times I am too busy to go the extra mile. It has helped to be part of a design team that talked about these things and tried to put them into practice. Not easy to do. Laughter is good! We appreciate your laughter and fun.

  2. terry morgan says:

    Great post! Love learning… and fun with you!

  3. Haswell Beni says:

    I am glad to have seen all this stuff. I did not know it was happening-
    Fun is a great ingredient to help stuff stay and stick with the learner. It requires hard work and thinking outside the box and is costly.
    I love it. I will think how fun can be part of the trainings I will be conducting.
    Thank you Steve.

    • Steve Morgan says:

      Thanks for visiting and commenting Haswell. I think we met in Spain at the Global Forum 10 years ago? Currently, we are working on a site for Trainer’s Training that we did in Africa and you will see some of this philosophy in the sessions. What trainings are you doing? Where are you these days? Thanks again. Looking forward to hearing from you.

      • Haswell Beni says:

        Dear Steve, wow!, what a memory! It is almost 14 years ago. Anyway, my family and I are still in Florence- Italy and using the humanitarian avenue to help build spiritual movements everywhere as we involve volunteers by charting the course of compassionately proclaiming the Gospel passionately when we take mission teams to Malawi. We are convinced about our call and goal that results in our Vision which is twofold: a. To build spiritual movements among Italians through evangelism and discipleship b. To mobilize the movements to meet spritual and physical needs of others locally and internationally through the humanitarian avenue.

        Our objectives aim at bringing together two groups of people both with spiritual needs although they live physical lives that are widely different. There are two types of people who can live and breathe Agape love in a safe environment with a common call and goal namely to be a blessing to our neighbors every moment of our lives. A compassion project is a safe environment where the two types of people: Believers and Not yet Believers live with each at par. God bless you. Training is in this environment of in-reach and outreach that is Living and Telling the Good News. In His love, Haswell

        Sent from my iPod

      • Steve Morgan says:

        Very cool stuff you are doing. Terry and I are on the same team as Debbie Ianetti. We were in Mexico for 20 years Last year we did the Lake Hart STINT-not sure where we would land after that but we have been working with the global LDHR team. We run point on NST, Trainer’s Training and now Team Leaders Training. We hope to have resources available for everbody sometime this semester. Keep up the great work. Steve

  4. RZ says:

    I think my brother is pretty cool.

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