In response to a recent Executive Briefing titled Comedy in the Classroom, Paul Roden, a training manager in human resources at LaSalle University, e-mailed me with a great example of how he uses humor in his classroom. Often, he starts his face-to-face training detailing the four types of trainees, complete with illustrations: the prisoner, the vacationer, the expert and the explorer.!@!
The prisoner is that employee who would rather be any other place than in training. To those prisoners in his classroom, Roden says: “I just want to welcome and acknowledge all the prisoners in the audience today. I would just hope that for at least part of the training, you would free yourself to listen and participate in the here and now.”
Then Roden welcomes the vacationer, that employee who sees training as a vacation from work, an opportunity to just sit back and daydream. Roden says: “I want to welcome and acknowledge all of the vacationers. I would just hope that from time to time you come back to the here and now [and] listen, participate and share some of your knowledge and experience, and listen and learn from other participants. Feel free to come back from vacation during the training as often as you can.”
Roden then recognizes the experts, those know-it-alls who challenge the trainer on every topic. Roden embraces that group by saying: “I want to welcome and acknowledge all the experts today. Remember, no one has a monopoly on being an expert or on what is the truth. We are all here to learn from each other. I just ask you to stretch your comfort zone and be open to some new ideas and techniques to help all us do our jobs better.”
Lastly, it’s time to salute the explorer: those employees who love to learn and explore new concepts. “I hope to facilitate this type of learning environment [and] that we all become explorers from time to time today. Give yourself permission and forgiveness to move between these different types of people in training. We all feel like a prisoner, a vacationer, an expert and an explorer from time to time during training, at work and at home. I just wanted to acknowledge that and welcome you all regardless of what frame of mind you are in.”
What better introduction is there to training? It’s a great way to capture your audience’s attention immediately and get them engaged. Do any of you have other suggestions for creative, one-of-a-kind exercises for engaging your students? If you do, I hope you will share them with your colleagues.