The importance of a joke

Jokes are important during training sessions, but don’t turn your training into stand-up comedy.


What can you do to maintain your training session not only bearable but also interesting, even entertaining? Sometimes it might be hard for trainees to pay attention throughout the whole training session, be it a classroom training or a webinar training. It might be hot in the training room, the participants just had lunch, they didn’t sleep very well the night before, or what you’re explaining isn’t just that exciting at all. Sometimes training content is boring and there is not much to do about it. But even when the training content is interesting, the attention span of your trainees will eventually decrease.

The attention cycle

Every person has an attention cycle, a cycle that has the form of half a sine wave. The attention is at its highest point at the start of the training and decreases gradually as the training session continues. Every certain time the attention curve will restart, in the best of cases at its highest peak but most probably at a point lower than the original starting point. The overall attention decreases and the attention curves become shorter, lower and less effective.

That’s where the joke makes its appearance  

The average duration of the attention cycle of evey person is 15 minutes. As a trainer, it is important to synchronise the attention cycles of your trainees in order to guarantee that all trainees retain the same information. That’s where the joke makes its appearance. Tell a joke or make a funny remark every 15 minutes and give an important message right after it. This will synchronise the peak of the attention curve of your trainees and facilitate the retention of the message. Make short jokes, a witticism.

No stand-up comedy

When a trainer gives his training, it is his responsibility to transfer the right information to the right people in the best possible way. A joke every certain time will help you to achieve this, but don’t turn your training in to stand-up comedy. Too many jokes or funny remarks will turn your training content into something trivial, something that hasn’t to be taken too seriously. Of a too funny training, your trainees will retain above all the jokes and the funny remarks, not so much the training content. As a trainer, always keep in mind that what you explain is important.