I stepped away from corporate training for one major reason: It’s boring. Business people often take things wayyyy too seriously, and that is not me. I like to have fun, and I truly believe that most people do too at least before they get drowned in debt or so miserable in their lives that they feel they have to make everyone around them miserable too.
However, I have been fortunate to meet some business people who actually are fun and want their employees to enjoy their jobs.
I recently conducted a training for one such person. I was hired for this job because of my background in corporate training, but also because the director wanted the retreat to be effective. She knows that in order to reach her employees, training should be fun and memorable rather than dry and boring.
When we were working on the planning stages, I suggested my one simple strategy for making events memorable: the element of surprise. Because of the way our brains are wired and our attention spans are shortened, if you want something to be memorable, it has to be surprising.
“So, how do we make a strategic planning session contain the element of surprise,” she asked.
I could see the strain I was causing on her brain, so I immediately calmed her by saying, “It doesn’t have to be extravagant.”
People are hard-wired to freak out when faced with change.
However, incorporating the element of surprise does not have to be extravagant. It can be rather simple.
I asked the director what she thought the employees would be expecting when they came into the meeting.
“Strategic planning,” she said.
I took this a little further for her, “They will be expecting to come in and have someone ask them questions and apply those questions to the planning, right?”
“What are they not expecting?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she said, “fun?”
“Exactly. They are expecting a normal, boring meeting. They are not expecting it to be fun. That’s the element of surprise.”
It’s that simple. Think about what is expected and do something unexpected.
We wanted the meeting to be productive, so I suggested that we them the entire meeting around things that are fun while also having a strong focus on the purpose.
We used colorful markers. We provided colorful candy to snack on during the meeting. We provided street food for lunch. We got up and took selfie breaks. The group had to go outside and find the perfect spot to take a selfie during their scheduled breaks. Whenever we had made progress, we all stood up and gave ourselves applause with hooping and hollering.
All of these elements took the meeting to another level, and the group was very productive. Later, the director thanked me and expressed how surprised she was that the meeting was so successful just because of these simple things. I reminded her that that’s my job to think outside the box and make sure people have fun and that her job is to do the boring stuff! She said that the employees talked about the meeting for days.
The next time you are in need of an effective training, think about incorporating the element of surprise. It doesn’t have to be difficult. It is actually rather simple. Just remember to think about what people are expecting and try to do the opposite.
If you’d like to hire me to bring some fun to your event, check out my website: https://www.juliestillrolin.com