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Tuesday Insight: Training is a serious business - or is it?


People's reactions to words tell us a lot about their personal comfort zones and how they are changing. Nowadays, when discussing training, the word PowerPoint is as likely to provoke a grimace as a positive reaction, and almost everyone likes 'participation'.  (This wasn't always the case - we went out on a limb in 2003 when we insisted on using the word 'participant' in all of our materials, rather than the word 'delegate'.) 

What about 'games'? Whilst almost all trainers will tell you they like to include 'activities' in their training, the word 'games' will still sometimes provoke a pursing of lips, or a shuffle of discomfort and embarrassment. You know the look; if you don't, try throwing a paper airplane at a neighbouring table in a nice restaurant - and you'll witness it yourself. 

Fun is all very well; it has its place, but surely training, like eating, is a very serious, grown up business and not the time for too much jollity.

We've been rebels here at Trainers' Library since our earliest days, merrily creating training materials that we know participants will enjoy. We've sent participants on treasure hunts, police chases, on a search for the key to Professor Warmkote's Safe and to remote planets. We've had them bridge building, solving crimes, planning a celebrity wedding and making crazy hats; all without leaving the training room. 

The thing is though, we're not doing this to rattle cages. We do this because games are an important tool for trainers and because they make training more effective. We do it because our overriding goal is to create learning that learners retain, are inspired by and which leads to real changes in individual behaviours and for the organisation. 

Here are six good reasons to use games in your training:

1. Games bring energy to your training room. They mean your participants are more alert and receptive to the learning available. A good game is the enemy of apathy, worry and boredom.

2. Games provide a concrete experience that participants can reflect on and learn from, and then develop new strategies for. In other words, they provide many of the key elements of Kolb's Learning Cycle.

3. Games provide a safe space in which to try new strategies and, equally importantly, a safe space in which to fail and learn from those failures.

4. Participants will remember unusual games and the learning from these, because our brains are fundamentally designed to remember the unusual, the peculiar and the downright out of place. 

5. Participants immerse themselves in the game in a way that enables the facilitator to observe 'real' behaviours and provide meaningful feedback. This is very, very different to what happens in a role play when participants 'act' in a way they think they're expected to.

6. Games enable the learning to be learner driven, rather than instructor-led. The participants are finding the solutions, and, for example, developing a strategy to work effectively together as a team. Not only is this a more effective way to learn, it also means that the participants 'own' the learning and the subsequent plans they develop on the back of that learning. 

If you'd like to know more about using games in training, why not attend my Masterclass on the 7th March in Birmingham? For more information, follow this link:


Until next time… have fun! 

January 23 2018Rod Webb



Rod Webb





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