How to Make Online Learning Fun but not a Joke

If you want to send a chill up your team’s spines, just utter the words “mandatory training.” If you want to make things worse, follow up with, “But it’s going to be fun!”
To make learning stick, trainers often feel the need to spice up otherwise boring lessons. That’s an admirable goal, but you can make learning fun without being silly or distracting.

Serious fun

Our CEO Max says, “We don’t take ourselves seriously, but we take our work seriously.” Use this sentiment as a good filter when you create Lessons. Start by taking your task seriously. Know your audience, understand what they want, and make sure you’re writing for them.

Next, focus on your goals. Broadly, Lessons you create should motivate your team and give them a feeling of mastering the topic.

Lastly, respect your employees’ time. No doubt they have pressing work, so don’t fill your Lessons with Mickey Mouse distractions. Too often, cutesy gimmicks just frustrate Learners and disrupt meaningful learning. You may also sabotage yourself by inadvertently implying that the information isn’t that serious. As a result, your team might not give it their proper attention.

So where does fun fit?

Start by not taking yourself seriously. A little self-deprecation can put Learners at ease and get them to laugh with you. As an example, Groucho Marx once quipped, “People say I don’t take criticism very well, but I say what the hell do they know?”

Injecting your personality into Lessons also humanizes the online experience. By telling concise stories that make the point (and are short), employees can relate more to the material.

Punctuate your point by peppering Lessons with entertaining photos, illustrations, videos, or animated GIFs. Media like this will break up big blocks of text and add in some unexpected liveliness.

Should I be funny?

Humor is subjective, so first make sure that any jokes you’re considering fit with your company’s culture. If your office atmosphere leans away from buttoned-up and oh-so-serious, consider that door open. But tread lightly when you’re being lighthearted. Stay away from humor that’s dark, biting, sarcastic, belittling, inappropriate, or just plain mean. You want your jesting to put your audience at ease and relax them. Also keep in mind that, some jokes slay an audience better when you tell them than when they appear on screen. Again, levity should add to, not detract from, the learning experience.

Billy Crystal once said, “In high school, I was the class comedian, not the class clown. The difference is, the class clown is the guy who drops his pants at the football game; the class comedian is the guy who talked him into it.” In this scenario, the clown draws attention to himself. As a trainer, make sure you keep the focus on the training, not yourself.

Where humor fits, work it into the Lesson. Standard rules of engagement apply, though, so for anything you would not send in an email, don’t add it to a Lesson. Share your draft with coworkers to make sure the humor hits the mark and adds appropriate wit to the Lesson.

For serious software that can empower employees and make learning fun, take a tour of Lessonly for free.

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