Recently I was reading through some online blogs where trainers were talking about using energisers or “ice breakers” throughout training to make the training “fun”. I have to admit that the discussion was around how to use these to add variety and excitement to training and it got me thinking about why some people still feel the need to add fun to training sessions.
That reminds me of an experience I had as a training participant. I remember sitting through a presentation that was quite tedious and not very useful due to the large amount of data that was being presented. Not only was the data boring, but the poor readability of the thousands (well at least it seemed like thousands) of slides being used to guide the presentation did not enhance the training in the slightest. However, what confused and then amused me most about the presentation was that about every 5 slides or so a slide full of flowers would appear before the endless stream of data continued. At the conclusion of the presentation the presenter opened up to the audience to take questions and in a room of over 100 people there was only one – ” Could you please explain the slides with the flowers?” to which the presenter replied ” Oh. I realised that my content was fairly boring and you probably couldn’t read the information on most of my slides, so I included some photos of a recent trip I took to Floriade to brighten things up a bit!”
This highlighted a number of things to me:
- Relevance, relevance, relevance – as learners we can and do put up with a lot in the adult training environment, but if there is one thing I have learned it is that relevance to the learner is the key! In our time poor workplaces we can’t afford to sit through information that either is not needed or does not enhance the understanding of the information we are there to learn. It is important to understand why our participants are in the room.
- Games and images only enhance a presentation when point one above has been considered. If not, they are a useless distraction to the learning and considered “time wasters” by many.
- No amount of “dressing up” can make up for poor trainer practice. Making sure you have the right content, your materials (including slides) are prepared and legible, that you know your presentation is suitable and appropriate for the audience matters more than cramming in a game every 10 minutes to stop people from falling asleep.
- My version of “fun” and your version of “fun” can be very different. Perhaps engaging is a better word to use in this instance and that has a lot to do with the person at the front of the room. Using humour, stories and anecdotes can still illustrate dry material and have people leaving the room feeling the time spent in training was valuable without having to get up and play games with others.
Now this might make it sound like I don’t advocate for activities in training and that couldn’t be further from the truth. What I am saying is that as trainers we have to choose activities that have purpose in regards to the overall content of the session rather than focussing on fun games that don’t enhance the learning. What do you think?
Author: Melinda Zanetich - Director & Master Trainer - 4MAT 4Learning - Asia Pacific Region