SIP 047: Three cures for terrible training sessions

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You’re likely getting ready for your summer lifeguard training this month. You have returning staff and new hires eager or reluctantly attending your mandatory training.


These are critical hours you have a captive audience. Here are 3 things you can do as an instructor or facilitator to make sure your participants aren’t leaving after your two day session saying, “well that could have been done in 2 hours.”


With these three cures you’ll have effective and efficient training where your participants will learn, be active, and be engaged.


What democracy doesn’t have 2 presidents? What company doesn’t have 2 CEOs? Ditch the Co-instructor format and have one lead instructor and multiple aides.

  • You must have a clear lead instructor.
  • If you have aides teaching, do not interrupt them or “add” to their discussion in front of the group.
  • Lead instructor is responsible for being prompt and clear with what is next, avoiding unnecessary downtime, and keeping everything moving.



Utilize small groups whenever possible. At some point working with a lot of people turns into just herding sheep.

  • Randomize the groups, switch up the groups regularly
    • Don’t use silly names for groups. Simple 1, 2, 3 is most effective than trying to remember random animals or colors.
  • Rotate aides and instructors for each group and topic so participants get different styles and interaction with each manager/instructor
  • Small groups are more effective at discussion, getting things moving, and speed up the process.
  • Use a large group debrief to share what small groups talked about and to swap stories.


Have a specific agenda before you start teaching.

  • Know what you are teaching, how much time you’ll spend teaching it, and what you are going to do next in as much exact detail as possible.
    • Avoid forcing people to sit and wait for you to figure out who is going to decide what to do next, when, and where.
  • Write it out and distribute it to all participants. At this time we’re doing this, at that time we’re doing that. Be clear, be specific, and pad things with a little extra time.
    • Participants will appreciate early release over excessive time.

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