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Make Training Fun.
By Doug Kennedy
Thursday, 31st July 2014
As experts in adult learning theory have told us for years, to achieve a transfer of training concepts from the workshop to the workplace requires an interactive, experiential learning approach;

This is theory seems even more relevant when training the so-called 'Millennials,' who have grown up in an over-stimulated world with a keyboard, joystick, mouse pad and now a touch screen in their hands.

When conducting training in the hospitality industry today, trainers find themselves facing a multi-generational audience that also includes Baby Boomers and Generation Xers, making it that much more challenging to find common ground. 

Having been personally conducting training for over two decades, I find that while much has changed, one principle of adult learning that remains the same across all generations is that to make training transfer we need to make training fun and enjoyable to attend. 

Here are some suggestions:

- Use an alternative location for the training.  For larger hotels, use a meeting room versus the standard hotel staff training room which is usually in the basement with no windows.   Let your staff experience a meeting as your conference guests would. 

- For smaller hotels with no meeting space, consider a fun off-site location such as a restaurant, library, or other off-site meeting room. This demonstrates the importance of your training event and probably gives more space to spread out for activities and games. 

- Have plenty of snacks and beverages.

Start your training with a fun energizer that is adapted to your topic. There are many handbooks on this subject but one newer book I found helpful was “Duct Tape Teambuilding Games” by Tom Heck. You can find many others at the websites of companies such as Trainers Warehouse.

- Use an interactive lecture style.  Instead of saying “Here are three reasons why this topic is important,” ask “Who can think of a reason why this topic is important for us today?” 

- When participants hesitate to interact, such as the start of a program, first ask a question that is easy to agree to such as “Do you think the subject of hospitality training is important?” When they all say “yes,” you can then ask “Why?” to draw-out their input.  The ones who responded “yes” are committed to participating!

- Organize your training content into “sound bites” of a maximum of 20 minutes of lecture format.  Go beyond this and you’ll watch the eyelids get heavy.

- Following each 20 minute “training sound bite,” make sure you use a training game, activity, or exercise.  Ideally, have participants work in pairs or larger teams to create interaction. 

- If multiple departments are involved, you will notice that most colleagues gravitate towards sitting with their co-workers.  To make the training more interactive you will want to break-up the group into diverse teams representing all departments.  Yet having assigned seats when the participants enter can feel demeaning.  Instead, once everyone arrives have the colleagues from each department raise their hand and count off by the number of teams.  (Example, if you have 30 participants and want 6 teams of 5, have each department take turns counting off from 1 to 6; then continue to the next department, etc…) 

- Make role-playing more fun by having participants first demonstrate the wrong way of doing things; this also reinforces that there is in fact a correct and incorrect way.  Then have them demonstrate the correct method or procedures. 

- Use your smartphone or tablet to video tape the role-plays, then playing the recordings back on a screen for the group to critique.  As the participants to first name what was done well, and then to name what could have been done more effectively.

Show segments of online video clips from YouTube and other resources.  Video is best used right before the start of a break or an interactive activity, as playing a video seems to put participants in a passive mode temporarily.  However, there are numerous fun yet insightful videos available online these days.  Just search-up “funny customer service” or “funny commercial” as key words. 

By making training interactive, engaging and fun, you’ll maximize the transfer of training concepts from the workshop to the daily workplace.

Doug Kennedy is President of the Kennedy Training Network, Inc. a leading provider of customized training programs and telephone mystery shopping services for the lodging and hospitality industry. Doug continues to be a fixture on the industry’s conference circuit for hotel companies, brands and associations, as he been for over two decades.
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