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Steven Munk

Lloyds Banking Group

Training Officer

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Practical Exercises for the training room to demonstrate that learning can be enjoyable.



The session will be between 10-20 people for 10-15mins.


Steve  Munk

17 Responses

  1. Fun

    Hi Steve

    Welcome to the world of training and good luck with your journey.

    Lesson No 1 is never use the word "fun" in a training room. If the delegates have "fun" thats great but thats for them to decide. And more importantly…it doesn’t HAVE to be fun.

    As for "warm ups and energisers"…I attend quite a few training events and have never needed warming up so be careful wha you are trying to do…

    Just smile and do something interesting and relevant that involves everyone and there is no need for games…


    Good luck




  2. Learning can be fun


    I fully understand where Steve R is coming from, and have some sympathy with that view when fun is sometimes used as a substitute for learning rather than an enhancement. But I also believe that learning doesn’t have to be sombre. Imagine a classic 4 box grid with the X axis being not useful / useful and the Y axis being not enjoyable / enjoyable. I bet we can all think of times when learning in that useful and enjoyable box has been fun. Sometimes the fun is merely present, neither adding nor detracting. Sometimes fun can enhance the learning or at least attach to it positive memories that may, in some instances, make it more likely that we will feel more positive about the learning and more motivated to try it out.

    Clearly there are times which are enjoyable with little or no learning, times when things are serious, even painful, and really useful learning takes place, and, sadly, times which aren’t enjoyable and no useful learning happens either.

    I see no reason why we, as trainers, cannot seek to establish an appropriate resonant mood that helps support the learning experience. I’m not talking here about amateurish attempts to liven up a session at all costs, I’m talking about seriously appropriate fun. Learning is not just a behavioural or cognitive process, it has an emotional dynamic. Humanistic theories reinforce that we are holistic in our learning and that our attitudes, our feelings and our personal aspirations are all routes to, and sources of, learning. Particularly in a group setting, the emotional dynamic, the atmosphere, can help block learning or reinforce resistance, or it can help create a climate of curiosity, acceptance and sharing. Fun, when unleashed rather than enforced, is one of the many emotions we have to accept, work with and, sometimes, stimulate. I for one would no more want to work in a training environment where fun was banned than I would in one where it was obligatory.

    So, Steve, as to your exercise, why don’t you get people to share an experience from that ‘useful and enjoyable’ box, and ask them how and why fun may have helped the learning on that occasion, and what general lessons they can learn from that. You don’t have to make the session fun. But I better there will be some smiles and laughs as people share their experiences.

    If you do give this a go, perhaps you would share with us on this forum your lessons learnt (Steve R’s last post ‘Polite Request’ rightly points out that a response is nice to hear. I’d add that a response with some learning attached is even better).

    Hope that helps


  3. Energiser…?

    Hi Steve,

    Welcome to your new training role.  I hope you go on to have a long and enjoyable journey!

    Is your energiser exercise a training event in itself or will it happen at the start of a longer session? 

    I would suggest that if this is a part of a longer session, that you consider basing it around your main topic, by way of an introduction.  In my experience, line managers’ time is often at a premium, particularly if they have to juggle operational work with line management tasks, so adding something that is not directly relevant to the topic at hand may be counterproductive.

    However, as Graham said in the last post, we all learn better when we are having fun so adding some activity, group work or discussion early on will set the tone for the whole session. 

    Make sure that you know what you want to achieve and believe that you will get the results you want – your group will pick up their state of mind from you as much as from the materials you use.

    Good luck!


  4. “What’s in a name?”

    I don’t want to get all preachy, or to come over all technical but I think it is quite important to clarify a couple of points about what we call sessions;

    An "energiser" is, in my lexicon anyway, an activity that is designed to energise, nothing else, it gets the blood flowing, the heart rate up and the oxygen levels raised.  It may also generate some endorphins through having a feel-good factor.  You use it when you think it is needed, perhaps at the end of a long hard day, or after an hour long compulsory video that is dull as ditchwater, or just after a senior manager has been droning on reading off a powerpoint slide with his or her back to the audience and oblivious to the fact that half the delegates have nodded off.

    If you have a "learning objective"; such as to prove that learning can be fun, or to prove that enjoying an activity improves learning or similar, then whatever activity you use as a vehicle for this learning isn’t an "energiser"

    Effective learning can be, but doesn’t have to be, "fun"; it can be challenging or even terrifying, and the danger is that we all have "fun" but the learning is actually degraded by this activity.  29 years ago I undertook a training course that was as much fun as being thrown off a cliff (it consisted mostly of being thrown off cliffs and I’m scared witless of heights).  I hated every minute of it but I can still belay a top anchor, prussic up a free rope, tie a bowline with my eyes shut and abseil using a figure 8 or an Italian Hitch.

    Sorry, that all got a bit wistful!


  5. The session should be fun in itself

    I hate courses entitled ‘Confidence Building’ or similar because all courses should help build confidence and I don’t see it as something separate.  In the same way all learning should be fun or at least enjoyable without you having to bill it as such.

    So I’d pick an energiser that’s appropriate to the overall course aims which in itself is fun.

    If you want to explore the subject you could initially get everyone to individually consider one positive and one negative learning experience they’ve had – not necessarily in a formal setting – it could be learning to drive or standing beside their mum at the kitchen sink learning to cook.

    You then get people to jot down a few thoughts on what made the positive experience good and the negative experience bad.

    Then move the people into groups of three or four and get them to explore their positives and negatives.  Often even though the actual subjects they were learning were very different the things that made the experiences good or bad are common.

    Then everyone reports back and you end up with a list of good and bad.  Hopefully one of the things in the good list will be ‘fun’ but it will also include things words like contructive and posiitive.


  6. “we all learn better when we are having fun”


    OK, I admit that "fun" is a bit of a sweeping generalisation.  Perhaps a more accurate phrase for "having fun" would be "engaged and involved". 

    For me, helping participants to feel engaged and involved means providing an incentive to be so.  I find it most productive to do this with something "fun" (please substitute interesting / challenging / surprising / enjoyable if you prefer), e.g. an activity, discussion or game.

    The challenge for me is to find the right balance of "fun" activities to engage and involve a whole group of people with different learning styles and preferences, while still keeping the training real and relevant.

    This really sums up why so much of what I do is so enjoyable.  How does this work for you?

    PS – Apologies Steve M if this has hijacked your post!


  7. The original question

    "The session will be between 10-20 people for 10-15mins"

    Just wondering if there is any point in doing this?  The objective is to demonstrate "learning can be enjoyable"…who says it isn’t enjoyable?

    What is happening now that you want to change?

    In my experience of attending courses the problem isn’t that Training isn’t enjoyable, the problem is that it is "1 size fits all"…

    I want the Training courses I attend to feel like a Savile Row suit rather than an off the peg experience. Very few trainers in my experience can achieve this!

    And thats not fun!


  8. Job Interview

    "Or does the original query read like a job interview exercise?"

    Well spotted…I would be very wary of a job interview that wanted me to make learning fun or enjoyable!

  9. Purpose?

    I am a bit confused by the purpose of the exercise you require?

    Surely the best way to show that learning is enjoyable is to deliver a kick-ass session on any topic? That should prove much more effective than a 20 minute exercise?

    Steve M, I invite you to put your request into context, thanks.


  10. Counting in Japanese


    I would do something like teaching the group to count to 10 in Japanese – show them the symbols and tell them what they say. See how many can do it. Then show them the ‘English’ versions of the words – see how many can do it now. Then do a full-on brain friendly ‘chant’ complete with actions. Now see who can remember it (all of them!).

    It should take about 10 minutes, and you can then link to the ‘serious’ stuff of how we need to use all our senses and multiple intelligences to learn…and the more we engage, the more ‘fun’ it can be, and, more importantly, the more we will retain.

    Hope this helps

    Sheridan Webb

    Keystone Development and Power Hour

  11. Japanese

    Loving the Japanese idea!

    With caution…very important to know when to stop the high energy stuff!

  12. Energisers

    Ideally the ‘joy’ of learning should be integral; should be part and parcel of the learning design. I like the Japanese example and have used it myself ( I still have an itchy knee – those who have used the exercise will understand. If you haven’t I hope it makes you curious!). It gets over a learning point by using a more imaginative approach than we sometimes limit ourselves too.

    I think this is very different to ‘energisers’ and their close cousin ‘ice-breakers’ as used at the start of a session. In my book, energisers are about changing the energy dynamic in the room in order to oil the wheels of the learning process. So, for example, if I’m moving from a reflect practice activity to some creative problem solving I may want to help people switch the nature of the energy to one more suitable to the task at hand. Simple things like getting people up and talking around a flipchart can do that. That physical act of moving is often enough to break any stillness or state of inward thinking. It gets people breathing differently and it brings people closer together around a particular focus (in this case a question on a flipchart). What I don’t like about energisers is when they are used to liven up a dull session. In the wrong hands, this is little more than displacement. If the training is well designed and well run, you should never get to the point of boredom.

    Just one final point from me on the relationship between fun and energy. Fun often injects a type of energy the smooths the way to learning or deminishes the temptation to be resistant. If that is the motive, and it is used naturally or at least carefully, it is a great tool in a trainers toolkit. Getting people energised can be fun, or it can be torture. Personally I rarely use energisers to inject fun per se. I prefer to use them to shift the mood or to help orientate people to a more appropriate state for learning. That includes softening the tone, calming people down and helping them work in a thoughtful way. Energy comes in many shades.


  13. Fun Vs Enjoyment

    This all sounds quite familiar, as indeed it is:

    So at the risk of further repetition, here’s what I wrote back in late April of this year:

    "I personally don’t really have an issue about undertaking some form of action that allows people to begin to interact and find about one another and the subject of development in a creative and none threatening way and calling it an ‘icebreaker’. When I do this I seek to facilitate what Berne termed ‘Time Structuring’ and get people to move from ‘Withdrawal’ which is what some people occupy in the early stages of relationships and move as quickly and as comfortably as possible to higher levels of intimacy. And intimacy should be understood here as a situation where an honest and open exchange of thoughts and/or feelings can take place.

    It’s my experience that an ice breaker can contribute to this if properly chosen and appropriately employed, I’ve done it, I do it and it works.

    I don’t use the term ‘fun’ but I do use the term ‘enjoyment’ where it fits the topic in hand. I sincerely want people to enjoy their learning; though by no means absolutely necessary it can be helpful."

  14. I am a Dalek

    One of the problems with TA and NLP and various other phsycological methodologies / techniques is that when they are not properly administered there is somethimes the feeling of being "herded" like an experimental sheep.

    This is quite often seen at Learning and Development conferences when the various experts do a 20 minute session to demonstrate the various techniques. (The last TA one I saw was toe curlingly bad)

    I spend most of my time looking at the audience rather than the trainer to see what reaction they are having…I think "experimental sheep" sums it up quite nicely sometimes.

    Not saying any of it is wrong but it must be done right! Baaaa Baaaa

  15. Garbage In = Garbage Out?

    "One of the problems with TA and NLP and various other phsycological methodologies / techniques is that when they are not properly administered there is somethimes the feeling of being "herded" like an experimental sheep."

    I agree, anything done badly is often and frequently experienced badly. And in those cases it is not the process that is necessarily wrong or the content that is invalid, merely the execution.

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Steven Munk

Training Officer

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