I think I’m a great person to be in a group training session with, and also a complete nightmare, depending on who you are. I’m great if you’re in my group, training alongside me, because I spice up the banality of proceedings with well-timed gags and banter. If you’re the trainer or facilitator, I’m the worst kind of trainee, because essentially, I heckle.
The amount of heckling, interruption and distracting banter I inject into a training session is directly proportionate to how dull the subject material is and how bland the trainer’s style is. If the person training were to pepper the day with the occasional joke or anecdote I’d have no need, but in my experience very few do.
Therefore I constantly find myself obliged to keep my fellow participants amused and awake, sustained enough to adequately take in the lessons of the session. In a way I feel I’m also doing the trainer a favour, they must do this same training, saying the same things, every day – surely they want a bit of comedy to shake things up a bit.
The only time I kept fairly quiet was when I was being trained to be a Fire Marshall at work. This was for two reasons; 1) the ex-fireman holding the class was built like the side of a moderately-priced bed & breakfast, and 2) my early gag that Marshall is literally my middle name sustained momentum throughout the afternoon.
I have done two Time Management courses over two different workplaces (can’t think why, which reminds me I’ll need to finish this post later, I’m late for a meeting…). The first one, about ten years ago, I got a certificate saying “Tim Management” which is a completely different qualification altogether. Nothing worse than Tims left to their own devices.
For my second Time Management course, we had a very interesting faciliator. He prefaced the session by explaining to us he had a curious eye condition, which left him unable to distinguish between shades of colour. Comedy gold, so I started writing some gags in my notebook. He was telling us this, he said, just in case we noticed him being clumsy, walking into things or tripping over things that were similar colour to the floor.
Fair enough, I thought, as I looked forward to seeing him bumbling around – never had actual slapstick in a training course before. I pondered whether I could sneak out at lunchtime and get a horn and a pair of cymbals so I could provide timely musical accompaniment to his trips and scrapes.
So the session began, and he stuck a large sheet of flipboard paper to the wall, talking as he did so. As he rambled on about introductory concepts he wrote a heading on the paper. Turning round to continue addressing us, it was hard not to snigger as we realised his optical condition also meant he had difficulty telling where the paper ended and the wall began; half of the title was now written on the meeting room itself.
He continued, “So tell me, what happens when you get so overloaded with so many tasks, from so many different people, and you don’t know how to juggle so many things and it becomes unmanageable? You know at that moment things have to change right?”
The writing’s on the wall?
It didn’t stop there, throughout the day, his notes were consistently half on notepad and papers, and half on the desk. One time he even missed his paper completely and just jotted something down in red ink on the table.
As we brainstormed ways to help us organise our workload, we couldn’t help but consider the poor cleaners when giving him answers. “Setting project milestones!” No no no, I thought, he’ll spill over by the ‘j’ – “Key dates, just put key dates.”
It was all very entertaining, but I didn’t heckle this guy too much – like I said at the start, there’s no need to if the trainer is providing the comedy. There wasn’t as much slapstick as I was expecting to be honest, but he more than made up for it by graffiti-ing every surface in the room.
So yeah I guess that was my favourite course. My least favourite was when I spent a day on a “Zest For Life” course. I was off sick for two days after that…