“Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not, a sense of humor to console him for what he is”. Francis Bacon
Nobody laughs during your training session. You could have a serious problem on your hands. Humor is a vital ingredient for training success, although you do not hear many trainers saying that. Humor is to training what salt is to food. The lack of it may not be harmful, but its presence lifts the quality of the training. What’s more- it has to be served in different dosages to different people.
The opportunity for training professionals is massive when it comes to the use of humor. It is a great way to engage the participants more deeply and also encourage people to learn. Establish the mood from the outset of the training session. Every session needs to start off on a high to let people know that the rest of the session will be fun. The inclusion of humor at the beginning of the session relieves participants’ nervousness, gets their attention and lets them know that the trainer does not necessarily believe in being glum.
All trainers have had experiences where they at some points in the training lose control of the training session or things don’t go exactly to plan. Carrying on with the session is an art that trainers need to learn much as stage actors do. Not dwelling on the session and not drawing attention of the participant’s to the mistake committed are two benefits of the use of humor. A joke if used when an error is spotted by the participant, a wrong answer is given or participants are talking amongst themselves in a training session can turn an awkward situation into something enjoyable. Participants do not remember the blooper, they feel good and it eases the tension for the trainer.
Humor can also be used to engage the participants in training. The trainer does not have to be the one making all the jokes. When participants say something funny, make sure that the entire group has heard it and feels part of the humor.
While adding the fun element has many obvious advantages, it has to be used cautiously. Some participant groups are not looking for fun during a training session. They are of the opinion that trainings have to be serious and that learning cannot be accomplished amidst all the laughter. What do you do with such groups? It is best to work with them to encourage learning, build trust and ensure that they take responsibility for their learning. It is also important to ensure that the humor flows naturally from the content. Humor is a medium to train effectively and not a substitute. Most importantly, be very aware of the brand of humor being used in a training session. Take care to ensure that it is not offensive to any group or section of the participants or that the participant does not become the butt of a joke.
From a training perspective, the value of humor is very evident. People want to have fun, people want to learn. Humor is a medium of linking the two expectations. If the participants believe that the training is going to be inherently fun and interesting, they are more likely to stay tuned with the training.
This week we would like to hear from you on the importance of humor in a training session. What do you believe is the role of humor in training? How has humor helped you enhance the quality of your training sessions? Also, we would like to hear about parts of the training where the use of humor has been particularly helpful.