Humour in Business
Article No 6

Training Fun - Make It Fun...Or Forget It!


Many trainers see humour in their sessions as a ‘nice to have’ component.  “How much fun did you have?” does not appear on many feedback forms.  Yet, to train people in today’s world without entertaining them as well is so difficult – no matter what the topic – that humour should be a ‘must have’ in every training session.  This is, sadly, not the case in Australia today and it’s because of several myths.  Here are three of the most common.

Myth #1 – Adding fun detracts from the content.  “I’m a trainer - not an entertainer!”

Fact - Fun is not part of the content, it’s part of the process.

We all know that a successful training session can depend more on the process than the content.  The founder of Toastmasters International, Dr Ralph Smedley said “people learn most in moments of enjoyment,” and any experienced trainer would agree; yet so many trainers have an ‘issue’ with the concept of entertaining.  “This is great learning that is interesting in itself. I shouldn’t have to waste time and effort making it more entertaining,” wail the purists.  Wrong.  People nowadays have become used to having information presented to them in an entertainment format.  Even the nightly news – arguably the most ‘serious’ program in any station’s schedule – is designed to be entertainment.  If you don’t present your information to them in a way that truly engages them it is likely to be a waste of time.

Myth #2 – Adding fun devalues the training

Fact – Adding humour makes the information more likely to be heard, believed and remembered.

John Cleese said “If I can make you laugh with me, you like me better, which makes you more open to my ideas.  And if I can get you to laugh at a particular point that I make, by laughing at it, you acknowledge it’s truth.”  In this way, use of humour to reinforce your point makes you a more convincing trainer. 

It has also been shown that the two things that people are most likely to remember are a shocking statistic or a funny line.  (This is because they want to remember it to tell their family, friends and acquaintances.)  Linking your key points to something funny means they are more likely to be retained.

Myth #3 – Adding humour means telling jokes (and can make the trainer look foolish if they don’t work)

Fact – Joke telling is only one of many ways of creating humour. 

There are few of us with the memory and delivery skills to be great joke tellers.  We all bring humour into our everyday interactions with others – but mostly it is not by telling jokes.  Find out what you do in your ‘everyday’ humour (for example, wordplay, satire, storytelling) and use this style – not the joke that made you laugh the most.  This way you can be more certain that it will work – and won’t make you look foolish.

Fun is not so much something you say or do as an atmosphere you create.  When this atmosphere of fun is established, the humour is then generated by others in the room - and this results in a training session that is more engaging, participative and enjoyable.  And the fastest way to create this atmosphere is to show them that, while you take your training role very seriously, you don’t take yourself seriously.

So, next time your planning a training session remember…make it fun or they’ll forget it!

© 2007 Kevin Ryan

Other articles: In-Flight Fun Fun in 'The Fridge' Hospitality Humour It's like baking a cake! 16 Ways to Bring Fun to Your Workplace

These are examples of the value of humour in business, the subject of my keynote presentation "Bottom-Line Humour – making fun a profit factor". I also conduct training seminars for staff in Humour in the Workplace.

 bottom-line humour | humour training | 'Speaking Professionally' column | main page

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