Safety training doesn’t have to be boring—in fact, it mustn’t be boring. The whole point of safety training is to teach people how to be safe and warn them of hazards in the workplace. This information is vital and must be retained. But who remembers a dry or uninspired safety lecture?
According to the Humor in Safety webinar, there are steps safety professionals can take to engage their audiences and make the training more memorable. And the more memorable the training is, the safer the workplace becomes. Tim Page-Bottorff, safety speaker and the author of the webinar, notes that one of the simplest tools you can use to engage your audience is through humorous visual aids:
“There are so many funny video clips, photos and cartoons in circulation now, you can fairly easily locate one that will serve as a valuable anecdote in your presentation. These visuals provide laughter, but with appropriate selection can also illustrate or support important teaching points—helping students relate, form more complete thoughts and retain the information better than they would without humor.”
Visual aids are extremely helpful in information retention and have a much bigger impact than listening to a lecture or reading a safety leaflet. Because trainees are more likely to remember something that is visually stimulating, this method can be used to sprinkle the class with memory cues, which will help the audience remember the point their instructor was making.
Of course, overusing visual aids is easy and can have the opposite effect by creating a confusing mass of various images, films and posters in the audience’s minds. Safety instructors need to balance the use of visuals and only rely on aids exactly as intended: as aids. Because they can only help make the information memorable; they can’t teach it.
In addition, safety instructors need to tailor each session to the people in front of them because sometimes reusing visual aids might not get the same results with a new class. So, as Tim points out, it’s important to always select visuals that will be appropriate for the audience.
Working on and improving a teaching style is not easy, but it’s possible. People are more likely to attentively watch and listen to someone who moves around, changes pace, makes them laugh and stimulates their senses. But even if a safety trainer is unable to effectively incorporate these techniques in their teaching style, they can use visual aids to provide the stimuli required for better audience engagement and to help their trainees retain information and stay safe.