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Five Tips to Improve Training Engagement and Memorability with Humor and Surprises

If you’ve flown in the last five years, you’ve probably noticed a trend in airline safety videos: Many are now actually -gasp- fun to watch!

They’ve gone from 100% instructional (“Exits here, life vest here…”) to, well, this:

How does an airline safety video apply to your employee trainings? You’re both up against two main challenges:

  1. You have a captive audience.

Much like an airplane, your employees are stuck in their chairs… and potentially cranky or not excited to be there.

2. You have important information to convey.

Whether your training is on protocols, compliance or safety information, let’s be honest: Critical information can be hazardously boring.

These in-flight videos aren’t trending in this direction by accident. A playful approach is being widely adopted because it works. Passengers are safer, feel a stronger emotional connection to the airline and the number of CPF (chuckles per flight) increases dramatically.

With that in mind, let’s explore five tips to use humor to improve the engagement and memorability of your training videos:

1. Choose timing wisely

As they say, comedy is all about timing. The wrong approach would be to write a script and then go back and try to fit in a joke every other sentence.

The right balance of frequency is going to depend on your subject, video length and brand voice, but we typically include a joke near the intro, surprises sprinkled throughout the video and almost always ending on a smile-inducing surprise.

2. Humor can be visual

With a training video, every word counts- you don’t necessarily have time for a set-up and punchline. The beauty is that a visual punchline can delight while reinforcing the core point on the content… and it doesn’t take up any more time.

3. Less can be more

The most effective comedic effects might be as subtle and playful as a well-timed sound effect or facial expression.

4. Reinforce key concepts with jokes that will trigger recall

Humor is not limited to grabbing and sustaining attention. It can also build greater comprehension and recall if used strategically.

Start with the idea you want people to remember- if you can build a visual gag tied to this concept, you’ll be able to quickly and easily reference to this idea later in the video.

5. Surprises don’t have to explain themselves

When something out of the ordinary happens, we perk up, looking for the explanation. A touch of surrealist humor or nonsense can be a frabjous way to make your audience say “Callhoh! Callay!”.

Now, if you have hundreds of thousands of dollars, a talented production crew and a llama, this airline safety video’s style is a great way to go. And if you don’t?

Whiteboard animations are an even more more cost-effective method to produce the same Delight & Education one-two punch.

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