As a corporate trainer or instructor, you can do your participants an incredible service by making their time with you and your course fun. And yes, I firmly believe fun is possible in any course and by any instructor. Yes, even you!
There are three types of instructors reading this post:
"I already make my training fun. In fact, I'm pretty awesomely amazing!"
"I don't know how to make learning fun, but I want to."
"'Fun' is not fundamental in the classroom. Don't have time for it. Nor do I have a sense of humor. Can I go now?"
If you're the latter, you've already stopped reading. Which leaves the other two types of instructors. Ready to find out how to integrate fun and/or more fun into your classroom? It mostly comes down to what you do before your course.
1. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
"It took me like 3 hours to finish the shading on your upper lip."
Napoleon Dynamite worked really hard on Trisha's sketch portrait. And you should be doing the same for your participants.
You have got to prepare before you get in the classroom. Review your content, flow, timing.
Does anything seem too long? Too wordy? Too complicated? Too simple? To unclear? If so, revise it now.
Yes, there is the chance that, during your training, you will have to improvise. Which means, in that moment, you will have to make one or more adjustments to your plan.
That is not the same as "Winging it." "Winging it" is for birds and performers on Whose Line Is It Anyway. You are most likely neither of those, so don't walk in all Wayne Brady-like, because you will crash and burn - gloriously.
2. Visualize the Flow of the Training Day
The day before, review your agenda and material. Close your eyes and visualize each chapter or section playing out smoothly in the classroom.
Imagine the questions that your participants will ask. Imagine the questions and visualize the activities you engage them with.
Are there any possible hiccups or complications that might occur? If so, what's your backup plan?
3. Have a Backup Plan
Even though there may not be anyone named Murphy in your course, please do expect and plan for an invisible Murphy to run rampant through your room, causing at least some mild disruptions. So have a backup plan for each major activity or participant engagement.
For example: After the morning break, your plan is to do Activity #2. However, going into the break, you sense that your participants aren't quite where they need to be for the activity to really be successful. You've covered all the relevant material, just like you've done dozens of times before.
However, for whatever reason, this group of participants needs more. What do you have to offer them, to get them to that activity fully prepared? If you wait until now to think about this, you may end up simply skipping the activity, even though you've designed each activity to be a critical piece of your overall training plan.
Not a winning strategy. Have a backup plan.
4. Reflect on and Celebrate Your Small wins
Think about those courses that have ended with you standing alone in the room and celebrating quietly to yourself. Take that feeling of accomplishment with you to your upcoming training. It's a great reminder of what you are capable of, something we too often either forget or dismiss as unimportant.
And when it's all over, go get yourself some tots on me. "Lucky!"
5. Don't be Frantic (the morning of)
"Pull yourself together, man!"
Finer words were never spoken by a self-absorbed, short-fused Chihuahua named Ren.
If you're the type to obsess over every detail in your training environment/room - or, if this is a new training location for you and you want to double-check everything, then arrive early enough to take care of all that well before your participants begin arriving.
Otherwise, you're going to be stressed, which is going to make them stressed, which is going to lead to everyone having a bad attitude.
I've got two kids - 11 and 13. I understand attitude.
6. Be Yourself
It's now the morning of. If you've done all of the above, the only thing you have to worry about is you - specifically, being yourself. Reflect back on all the prep that you've done. You've rehearsed, you've foreseen challenges and have properly prepared your plan B. All of that is no longer a distraction.
And remind yourself, by the way, that you are a pretty awesome instructor.
Maybe that's something you tell yourself in the mirror as you head out the door.
Being an introvert, I've never been comfortable having a self-affirming conversation with myself in the mirror. Is that just an extravert thing? You tell me.
7. Engage Your Participants
Your participants are in your course to learn. In an ideal world, that means they want to participate in the process and not simply be talked to.
And as a group, they have some great experiences, stories and unique personalities that can enhance the level of fun in your course. If you don't involve them, and decide it's best for you to talk all of the time, then only one person becomes the driver of fun: You.
Do you really want that much pressure?
I didn't think so. Be yourself, be interested and have fun with your participants, all while helping them learn.