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Dave Thomas

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Let us enter-train you: Top tips to put the fun back into learning

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Dave Thomas of Spy Games reveals his top tips to put the fun back into training.


Engage

Overcoming an unfamiliar challenge, in an unfamiliar environment, can have an incredible effect on confidence. It's important to take people out of their comfort zone. Putting people in a completely new environment, presenting them with unfamiliar challenges, or a combination of the two, immediately helps them to break free of the habitual thinking that might hamper their daily work.
"Activities that demand fresh thinking, positive collaboration and unified action to meet an urgent need can help participants reassess the way they work."
Ultimately, when people are enjoying themselves, they are more open to learning and taking messages on board. I'm a big believer in getting out of the seminar room and doing something interactive and enjoyable that people can really engage with. Activity like this can be used to enhance a formal training programme, or stand on its own as a training exercise in its own right.
 

'Enter-train'

Aligning a compelling hands-on challenge with objectives that relate to day-to-day working gives you a very powerful tool. Participants become completely engaged in the urgency and drama of the challenge they face, so they have to rely on their training, their raw instincts and their impulses.
Activities that demand fresh thinking, positive collaboration and unified action to meet an urgent need can help them reassess the way they work and their contribution to the ultimate success of meeting overall objectives.
 

Excite

No longer is it acceptable to stick a team of staff into a muddy field with blindfolds to teach them about leadership and trust. Today, people are used to being presented with information in an entertaining format and that applies to learning and training too. At a time when finances are more constrained, and teams are working harder than ever in a tough market, you have to think creatively about your training to get the most out of your staff.
 

Achieve

Establish some clear objectives. It might sound surprising but so many companies make plans without a clear view of what they want to achieve. How will you achieve anything if you don't even know what you’re trying to achieve? What are the key messages you want your trainees to take on board? Without a purpose, staff will be distracted, uninterested and the whole programme will be a waste of time. Get it right, and the key messages will be naturally absorbed and, crucially, remembered.
 

Be prepared

It's important never to overlook logistics. Attention to detail can make or break a training event. How do you access the toilets at the site? How will you involve each of the 150 people in attendance? And what about a contingency plan? Whether it's heavy snow, transport problems or lack of catering, you may have to adapt quickly to avoid trainees having to wait around. By keeping things moving, you'll be able to keep the attention of delegates. 
 

Feedback

After your training programme, it can be a good idea to regroup with the participants and talk through what they've learned. This gets people excited again, talking about what they’ve achieved and is a great tool for underlining those important messages. You might want to draw comparisons between what took place on the day and what happens at work. It's absolutely vital that staff use what they have learned in a positive way. You might want to check again in a month or two to find out how they have put their new knowledge or skills into action in the workplace.
Training doesn't have to be just about learning - by working with a good training company; you can get a sense of what's achievable and let them develop a programme that effectively meets your criteria. By injecting a bit of fun into a creative and engaging programme, trainees will remember the experience for years to come. Mission impossible becomes mission complete!
Dave Thomas is the managing director of Spy Games, an innovative events company that provides bespoke espionage-themed training activities for major companies in the UK and overseas. A former SAS instructor, Dave drew upon his professional experience to set up Spy Games in 2001

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Dave Thomas

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