It's often suggested that as trainers, we begin our sessions with a
story, perhaps a humorous one. But once you're done telling your
tale, you must figure out how to maintain the energy generated by
the story. While we know humor can be a useful attribute to any
training program, the question becomes how best to use it?
Use humor to get attention. Trainees enter
training programs with ideas of new opportunity, so there is
already some built-up motivation the minute they enter the room.
Keep it rolling! Retain that motivation by beginning with a
Don't let humor harm your training message. If
trainees experience too much humor in a training program, they walk
away thinking the whole program was a joke. Provide enough humor to
reinforce the relevance of the training and to help learners recall
your message, but be careful not to turn the classroom into a
stand-up comedy routine.
Use humor in established or recurring training. If
you are facilitating a program that you have run before, humor can
make the event a bit different for you, as well as for learners who
must attend the program more than once.
Use humor according to demographics: Be careful
about the humor you use in different cultural populations and
always be sensitive to your audience. It's never okay to tell
off-color jokes or insult another ethnicity, gender, or religion,
but also be sensitive to your audience's age, income, and location.
Remember: What is funny to some is not funny to others.
Whether you work within an organization or are an outside
consultant, you want people to feel the courses you present are
beneficial so they will want you to do additional training and
development. You can use humor to your competitive advantage. Just
don't let it override the training program's message.
Shimp, T.A. (2010). Advertising, promotion and other aspects of
integrated marketing communicatons. 8th ed. Cengage.
ASTD Field Editor Carol Decker is an associate professor of
business administration at Tennessee Wesleyan College in Athens,
Tennessee; 1.423.746.5270; firstname.lastname@example.org.
2010 ASTD, Alexandria, VA. All rights reserved.