Last week I was invited to a meeting to share with a group of business leaders and managers a case study of a programme I’d delivered in the same industry earlier in the year. The objective of this programme was to increase restaurant sales through “up selling”. (This is a term I hate, as it often makes staff feel they need to be pushy. I prefer using the term “adding value”. But I can talk about that another day…).
I’m not a great one for stuffy formality, so when I learnt that the meeting was taking place outside followed by a barbecue I knew it would be okay to be a little less conventional in terms of my ‘presentation’.
So, I incorporated some very interactive exercises as examples from the training programme, which got everyone involved, and having a few laughs into the bargain.
[One of these centred around descriptive selling which involved some scrumptious organic coconut macaroons, very kindly supplied by Ineke at Nourish (www.nourish-growcookenjoy.com). Thank you Ineke, they achieved my objective perfectly.]
I’m a great believer in having some fun, whether that be a business meeting, an internal meeting with your team or training.
When I look back at the feedback from the original training one of the underlying themes which led to its success was having fun. This resulted in participants feeling relaxed, maintaining interest and making it enjoyable.
And just as importantly, everyone remembering and applying the key messages.
It was apparent that previous training had not achieved any of these things, and in the past participants had been reluctant and unenthusiastic about attending training, which doesn’t make for an auspicious start!
Allowing people to have fun at work makes them more receptive and engaged (which is important for you) and enjoyable (important for the team). Smiling and laughter trigger dopamine, which in turn activates the learning centres in the brain, so is particularly relevant when training.
All good for contributing to your employee engagement, productivity and staff retention, all of which has a positive knock-on effect on your customer’s experience.
So, is it possible to have fun, even when it’s a serious topic?
Here are 10 ideas for injecting some fun.
- Tap into their inner child. Reinforce messages with quizzes, create games or league tables to add an element of competition and fun. Copy some of the gamification ideas you see on apps such as awarding badges, progress charts, treasure hunts.
- Add impact to meetings. Take people away from their normal environment occasionally (as long as this doesn’t make them uncomfortable or become a distraction); go outside, use music; alter the office layout, introduce unusual props. Make full use of the senses. Use props and live examples that people can touch, smell and even taste if appropriate.
- Add variety. Create opportunities for the team to do something different to what they are used to, to make their day more interesting. Break up routine activities with fun energisers and ‘right brain’ activities. These might seem trivial, but getting your team members involved and keeps them energized and in a better state of mind. There are also great for relieving any tension and getting the brain warmed up before meetings and/or training.
- Celebrate obscure national days: Winnie the Pooh Day, Tell an old joke Day, National Popcorn Day. (In case you’re interested 24th of August is Vesuvius Day, Peach Pie Day and Pluto Demoted Day!)
- Lunch on us. Bring in lunch or arrange for caterers to come in and produce a team lunch. Or if the occasion warrants it to celebrate or say thank you organise a long team lunch (or dinner) out with the business picking up the bill.
- Team outing. Take the team out for a treat. It can be as lavish or as little as you like: afternoon tea, wine tasting, pizza night.
- Find some quirky ways to recognise noteworthy achievements or events however small. Whether it’s the boss making the coffee all day, or awarding the team mascot for the day; just a small gesture they appreciate and means it gets recognised.
- Charity appeal. Do something fun but with a serious note in aid of charity. Whether it’s Red Nose Day, Children in Need, Macmillan coffee morning or something of your own to support a nominated charity or a charity with special meaning for one or more of your team.
- Create a company (or department) team. Whether it’s football, pub quiz, or bell ringing! Let them choose, but give it your backing, cheer them on and celebrate their successes.
- Monday morning motivation. Banish Monday morning blues with something on a Monday morning for your team to truly look forward to. You don’t need to decide what this is – ask them!
So, whatever your business, keep things light hearted. You might be dealing with serious subjects, but people will be more productive when they are happy and relaxed.
Laughter is the best medicine. A good hearty laugh relieves tension and helps boost the immune system. And it’s contagious.
So…. Have some fun!