Fable Friday: Some Shakespeare trivia and a training tip

Juliet stands on her balcony and calls into the darkness, “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?” Some think she’s looking around for Romeo, but you know that the word “wherefore” actually means “why.”  Juliet is asking, “Of all the guys I could fall in love with, why did it have to be you Romeo? You’re a Montague and our families hate each other!”

This is a fun bit of Shakespeare trivia isn’t it?  For some reason we all love trivia. I know of no one who hasn’t played Trivial Pursuit.  It’s challenging and interesting and we can always learn from it. Why not incorporate it into your workshops? I do, and I do it tactically so as not to waste class time but keep the learners engaged.  Here’s how.

At the first morning break, say ten a.m., I ask the group, “Why does Juliet speak this line?”  Then I tell them when they come back from break promptly at 10:15 I’ll let someone give the answer and an explanation, and I do this exactly on the minute, at 10:15.

Now here is what happens.  If you’re a trainer, you know that not everyone comes back on time.  People drift in, reading their mail or on the phone, finishing up conversations and so on, and it often takes a few minutes get everyone seated.  Why not use this “wasted time” to do something engaging, like trivia?  The benefit to you is that it doesn’t interfere with class time, and after the first one, more people get back from break on time to hear the answer. 

After you debrief the Romeo question, you announce there will be another at lunch and you’re going to give the answer right at 1 p.m.  Believe me, they will be in their seats then, so you have managed the breaks effectively, and added some interest and fun to your workshop.

At the lunch break you ask them who speaks this Shakespearean line:  “The play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.”  After lunch, assuming no one gets the answer, you explain it’s from Act Two of Hamlet and Hamlet himself speaks the line. He’s planning to put on a play to trap his uncle as the murderer of his father. The learners love the story. 

I always finish by telling the participants, “If you ever get a baseball trivia question, always guess Babe Ruth, since he held so many records.  In Shakespeare, if you don’t know the answer, always guess Hamlet, as it’s the most often quoted play of Shakespeare’s works.”

Now for the fun part.  For the mid-afternoon break, ask them who speaks this line:  “Tis a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”  When they come back from break they will all remember your lunchtime hint and guess Hamlet.  Then you tell them it’s from Act Five in Macbeth. He speaks the line after hearing of his wife’s death and he realizes everything he has is gone.  The learners love the stories and have a good laugh at having been tricked.

If you’re not crazy about Shakespeare, use some other subject, but make sure it’s fun and interesting.  This tactic is a great way to make good use of that end-of-break chair shuffling, phone shutdown time that is often wasted.  And remember that the learners are your customers, so…

Think Like Your Customer

About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at www.actionsystemstraining.com.

2 Responses to Fable Friday: Some Shakespeare trivia and a training tip

  1. Margie Kensil says:

    Gregory, this is priceless! I’m going to use this tactic – and these examples this week in Austin and Scottsdale! Regards,

  2. Thank you Margie, and given your level of skill, I’m sure you will make it very exciting for the learners. Let your imagination run. You can do this with lots of different topics: famous movie lines, sports trivia, etc., depending on the age and mix of your audience. Good luck, and thanks so much for the comment. Gregory

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