Laugh and learn book coverThere are a lot of books of training games out there, but in keeping with the theme of fun that I have been on recently, here is a quickie review of a book called Laugh and Learn by Doni Tamblyn. Ms. Tamblyn says

“Research reveals that laughing reduces the output of negative stress chemicals in the brain, while it dramatically improves cognitive and creative thinking…More than ever, humor has become an indispensable business skill. Used appropriately, humor helps people work better, think better, and get along better. And it sure as heck makes life a lot more worth living!”

That’s a sentiment that I love.

Doni Tambleyn is an internationally-published author, a professional speaker, trainer, comedian, singer, and former commercial actor who was also instrumental in introducing comedy to California’s traffic safety classes. Her book takes advantage of that rich background to provide training and learning ideas that are not only effective, but fun. She says the reasons to use humor are the following:

  • Is easy and everyone is good at it
  • Reduces stress and threat
  • Draws people together
  • Invokes relevancy and visual memory
  • Engages emotion
  • Allows brain to take regular “breathers” for meaning-making, heightened attention, and review
  • Is intrinsically motivating

I appreciated that this book starts off talking about about adult learning theory. Then, the book continues with 95 fun-based training games. You can get a sample of it on Google Books. If you have a need for this kind of thing, its a worthy add to your collection! There is also PDF from a presentation at ASTD here, which has a few games.


Many years ago, a clever fellow named Thiagi conducted a seminar for my work group. At the start, he asked, “what are your requirements for this training?” and he had us each write a requirement on a blank piece of standard copier paper. Then, we walked around the room and compared ideas with other people in pairs. Each time, we kept the best of the two ideas and tossed the other on the floor, until we had interactively sorted out a handful of the most preferred ideas.

Thiagi’s passion was creating fun, interactive games. He used a wooden railroad whistle to start and stop activities and gave us a business card printed on the back of a playing card. I think his tie also had playing cards on it. He was hilarious, a combination magician-professor.

Many organizational change situations call for a limited scale training to be conducted. For example, you may need to explain a new process, a new policy, or new skills for dealing with clients. Although it is tempting to create some Powerpoint slides and present them, the training can be enhanced by introducing simple, interactive games that enable the learners to interact with the content. Adults will learn better and in a more lasting way if they are engaged with the content through games.

These games don’t have to be super sophisticated–just enough to make the learning a little more fun. You can get Thiagi to help you and you can also avail yourself of the database of free ideas that he has on his website. I’ve used variations of many of them over the years with great success. Or you can buy his book.

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