By: Cherry Birch On: November 4, 2021

I once wrote a blog on the subject of making Finance Training fun and definitely not boring. One of the comments, posted in reply, challenged me as to whether this really mattered – as long as the learning objectives were met. This intrigued me!

You see when I was originally trained as a facilitator at PA’s Sundridge Park Management Development Centre in the UK – I was always taught to leave them wanting more! I was lucky enough to study and observe a very wonderful guy, Robert Turner, (who sadly died far too young) and his style, which everyone loved, was fun, self-effacing, and incredibly engaging. One of Robert’s introductory lines was that he used to work for a FMCG company, which had a problem with the ‘F’! I guess he was a role model for me.

I have always believed that if people are having fun, they will be more engaged and therefore are likely to learn more. However, is there any research to support this belief of mine?

Apparently there is!

My Googling surfaced a great article “Why fun is important in learning” by Valerie Strauss from the Washington Post. The article basically answered my question as follows:

‘Neurologist and educator Judy Willis’s book “Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning: Insights from a Neurologist and Classroom Teacher” (ASCD, 2006) is one of many that have highlighted the learning benefits of fun. Here are just a few excerpts:

‘The highest-level executive thinking, making of connections, and “a ha” moments are more likely to occur in an atmosphere of “exuberant discovery,” where students of all ages retain that kindergarten enthusiasm of embracing each day with the joy of learning.

So fun actually seems to promote learning. It increases dopamine, endorphins, and oxygen!

The human brain and body respond positively to laughter with the release of endorphin, epinephrine (adrenaline), and dopamine, and with increased breathing volume (more oxygen). When a lesson starts with humour, there is more alerting, and the subsequent information is attached to the positive emotional event as an event or flashbulb memory.’

Apart from all this, would not common sense suggest that people want to attend training where they have a few laughs and are engaged, rather than a serious and dry workshop? Of course, the other side of this is that as a facilitator, I enjoy running courses with the ‘fun’ built in. I look forward to these courses and I hope I do a better job because of that!

In my instructional design work, I am always looking for not only engaging activities but those where we can have some laughs! Let’s face it, life’s far too short!

With the move to virtual sessions, one of the exercises that works really well is to use the Poll function on Zoom with 2 Truths and 1 Lie. We request participants to send theirs to us before the session so we can set up the Polls. We have had some wonderful contributions – here are a few of our favourite ones:

  • I was driven off a 30m cliff when I was 19 in Cairns.
  •  I have shared a kiss with Kiefer Sutherland.
  • I was recently concussed whilst carrying breakfast over to the dining room table.
  • My sister cut the tip of my ear when trying to cut my hair as kids and I now have a piece missing from the top.
  • I won a car on sale of the Century in 1987.
  • Worked with a woman whose nipple was bitten off by a donkey in Greece!

So just as the Ha ha leads to the A ha in brainstorming – it also leads to increased learning!

I would love to hear your views and if we could help you, please do get in contact with us at Financial Training Australia – we are only an email away – cherry@financialtrainingaustralia.com or on the other end of the phone – 03 9510 9401!


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