Time for your annual mandatory company training! A week long training marathon commences, to a grey room full of disgruntled faces. Tick follows tock, follows tick, follows tock... is it home time yet?

Perhaps the above is a dated perspective, modern day training environments are increasingly more vibrant and interesting. However, training often gets a bad reputation, a necessary requirement of corporate life, a chore rather than a fantastic opportunity to improve your skills. Gone are the days of our youth when learning new things was all so bright and shiny!

For some, learning new things isn't fun anymore and training is often greeted with 'I've got better things to do with my time'. As Gavin Oattes suggested at this years LITE conference:

"When it comes to your own personal and professional development, sometimes there is no better thing we can be doing!"

At Administrate we passionately believe that learning should be fun. So how can we make mandatory training more engaging? How can we get that little spark of magic back into learning?

Here's 5 suggestions that could help:

1. Add Some Surprises!

We humans enjoy the unexpected. Surprises stop our minds wandering, interrupting and demanding our immediate attention. Incorporating some surprises into your learning delivery can help break the routine and make learning more enjoyable. For example, if you're including a really important quote from a leading figure in your training, why not contact them and ask them if they'd mind recording a quick video of themselves actually speaking the quote. Cut to this during your training rather than just show the written quote on a slide and you're much more likely to grab attention.

Some other ways to surprise and attract the attention of your students could include:

  • Using fresh and relevant examples - what's happening in the news that you could relate to your training?
  • Use Tweets and/or social feeds to illustrate your points.
  • Pose fun questions to really make your students stop and think - if X is the answer, what is the question?

2. Tell a Good Story

Struggling to make learning breakthroughs with your students? Tell them a good story! Not 'Once upon a time' stories, but tales of how you first came to learn the concept you're now training them on. Think about how you can deliver your training using the structure of a typical story - incorporate a beginning (how it used to be), a middle (the challenge, how things changed and the critical point of change, if applicable) and the end (the new reality). Stories help your training become a more immersive and relatable experience for students and information is often better retained, more so than if the material was presented as just another slide in the deck. As this NY Times article suggests:

"Stories stimulate the brain and even change how we act in life."

Deliver most of your training via eLearning? Storytelling is still a valid medium, as this article illustrates.

3. Challenge Everything

Challenge assumptions. As humans we assume, we make pre-judgements on almost all aspects of our life. If we see the word 'training', there's a chance that we'll assume it will be two hours of sitting in front of an instructor, simply listening to what they have to say. Challenge the norms and established ways of thinking associated with both ILT (Instructor Led Training) and eLearning.

As an off-the-wall example, why not find a way to incorporate a bright red balloon into the subject matter of your next training course, having it placed in a very visible part of the room when students arrive. Guaranteed, everyone in that room will throw out the misconception that this is 'just another training lesson' and be filled with a little wonderment, when they realise that something a little different is happening today.

Red Balloon

4. Get a Little Creative

Pop quiz, how do you fit a giraffe in a fridge?

This was a question originally posed to 100 people - 50 considered leading business minds, 50 preschool children. Over 90% of the leading business minds got the answer wrong, with the most common responses being, 1. chop it up, 2. get a big fridge, and, unsurprisingly, 3. why would you put a giraffe in a fridge? However, over 90% of the preschool children answered with what is widely believed the 'correct answer', open the fridge door, put the giraffe in the fridge and shut the door. Of course logic would tell us that a giraffe wouldn't fit in a typical fridge. However, the question is designed to show that, as adults, we can often overcomplicate or over think things.

A great example of teaching a lesson in a creative, outside of the box and memorable way. Gavin Oattes shared this with audience during his LITE talk in September 2016 and it will likely stay with me for life. Can you incorporate some thought-provoking analogies to help your students learn?

5. Be the Distraction

We've all been there. Mid conversation, chatting away happily, when a phone buzzes or beeps and the words tale off as our brains move into 'ooh an alert' mode. Most of the time instructors will ask students to turn their phones to silent before hand, but in a crowded room it can be hard to keep track of who is or isn't watching their smartphone rather than the instructor.

Why not get creative and be the distraction? Schedule a Tweet (and tag your students) to send out during your training, reinforcing a point you've made earlier. Draft a text (SMS) on your smartphone and slyly tap send while you deliver the training to catch your students unaware, striking life into a long training session when their attention may be starting to wander.

Or in an eLearning context, you could use Administrate's automated communications to inject a little humour into your student's learning. Schedule a SMS trigger to send during popular TV show 'Dragon's Den' to encourage your students to return to their incomplete business/entrepreneurship eLearning module - 'get back to the course and be the next Dragon!'

Try Something New - Download our 'Beginners Guide to eLearning' eBook!

Are you delivering most of your training via traditional Instructor Led Training (ILT)? While there's absolutely nothing wrong with that, why not try incorporating some eLearning into your syllabus to offer an alternative learning channel for your students? Or perhaps you could include an eLearning follow-up component for those who are ahead of the class?

To help you get started, you can download our 'Beginners Guide to eLearning' below.