I was recently asked what I do to make my student employee trainings more engaging and exciting. I responded that I take them to the circus and I was given a weird look, understandably. I wish I could actually take them to the circus, but I’m not sure risk management would let us play with real life tigers.
When I plan my employee trainings, whether it is teaching new student supervisors how to manage their peers or new officials the basic rules, I use the great philosophy of circus mogul P.T. Barnum: Always have a little something for everyone.
And while trying to tame wild animals could be very similar to trying to deal with angry participants, I usually try to apply the philosophy by using different methods to get a similar point across.
For example, when teaching new officials rules, I have found it beneficial to have the rule written on a PowerPoint slide for those who can read and understand it, verbally talk through it for those who can listen and understand it, and also having a short animation to explain it for those who can see and understand it.
When it comes to some longer sessions training new supervisors at the beginning of the year, I have found it beneficial to actually use a few different methodologies used by some circus performers.
The trapeze artists are who I like to base my agenda on. You know they are going to glide gracefully back and forth in the air, but they always leave you guessing as to the next trick they are going to execute. Similarly, I like to have a general flow of the training that that students can expect, but also keep them on the edge of their seat as to what might come next by inserting different activities to experience a topic a little differently.
The clowns, quite expectedly if you know me, are who I like to base the activities and general feel of the day. By keeping things light and fun, students are put at ease and are able to make deeper connections with each other.
The human cannonball is the last performer that leads the charge. At the end of the day, you just need to ignite the fuse and just get ready for the ride. It may be a crazy journey, but cross your fingers and hope the student learned what you waned them to learn.