Hotel Babylon, Game of Thrones, Aerobics, and Escape Rooms have all appeared in my training. This is alongside "Forum Theatre" facilitated by professional actors, mock Press Conferences and the basics of Self Defence and Stage combat.
Oh, you're one of "those" trainers.
If by "those" you mean I'm the sort of trainer who writes engaging sessions using relevant metaphor, immersing you in practical skills which demonstrate transferrability and enable you to reflect on behaviours that a powerpoint cannot elicit - then yes, I'm one of those.
Sadly training (especially the more experiential sessions) can be met with suspicion by many. I've cringed myself when trainers roll out the "put your shoe in the middle and we'll guess whose it is" icebreaker with corporate organisations; and hung my head at yet another version of "create an advert and perform it" in recruitment sessions. Sometimes it feels like trainers have bought a book of activities and chosen one at random.
I certainly use this sort of activity - but there's always a reason, which is just as carefully explained when taking time to reflect.
As an example - does anyone use the "creative ball" as a warm up? (You know - "This is an imaginary ball and it can become anything you want, and you need to throw it at someone and they catch it and throw it at someone else changing what it is"). This is an absolute drama staple for learning names. However, it has a very important message to teach when it comes to communication as well.
1. Not only does it enhance creativity by allowing and atmosphere where "nothing is rejected"
2. I also ask the person catching the ball to acknowledge what was thrown before changing it to their own idea - why - because it means all ideas are accepted before putting your own stamp on it.
It's such a tiny teaching point, but it makes everyone think about how receptive they are not just to the ideas of others in general, but sometimes the ideas of others specifically!!
...and of course I only use this activity in a communication session (there are better creativity exercises, and better ones for names too!)
The secret to educational, engaging training is not pure"entertainment" - it is knowing which skill or behaviour you are trying to elicit and reveal in order to allow delegates to reflect on it.
(...and the secret to emotional agility training - is eliciting and revealing skills and behaiour in order to allow delegates to reflect on it...in a safe environment.)
Soft skills and emotional agility can be explained. I can tell you how things might be done, I can give you quizzes on the best response in a certain situation. But it only becomes meaningful when I have seen you do it...and ideally at a time you are not thinking it's what I'm looking for.
The use of applied theatre, or other practical concepts (such as combat or aerobics) are always delivered by professionals in that field, who are briefed not just on how the session will be run - but the key learning points of the class. Combat is as much about learning respect, teamwork, and silent communication as it is about the skill itself. Aerobics can teach you more about leadership in ten minutes than a seminar on leadership styles.
And in all cases it is meaningful learning.
Delegates are doing and reflecting . But, because it is in a context which is often novel to them, their behaviours will be more instinctual, and therefore their reflection more revealing.
I consider this now as I am putting the finishing touches to our Personal Development programme part of the #LIFESKILLS programme at Brunel University and was gathering together my props for the my customer services session. As a community theatre director, I will of course add some personal quirks if I think it appropriate - but when using any form of experiential learning - this should never take away from the main aim:
Engage - Elicit - Reflect.