Managing Training Session Time

Traditional Method

When preparing for delivering a training program there are basically two contrasting methods to do so. The first method, which is the traditional one, is to decide on all the elements of a training session, arrange them in a fixed sequence and specify a fixed time interval for each element. The elements may include activities, lecturing, breaks and even time for questions. Although such a method may work in the case of lectures, where a speaker may be able to predict with fair accuracy the amount of time required to present each part of the lecture or presentation based on previous experiences of delivering it or based on testing delivering it to an imaginary audience, yet when it comes to more interactive forms of training such as student activities or even time for student questions such a traditional method for planning and managing session time starts to break down.

Flexible Method

The alternative more flexible method which is more suited to the more modern highly interactive workshop style type of training programs is best at covering for such shortcomings present in the traditional rigid type of session time management.


When planning a training session using the flexible method one merely outlines the elements of the session on a piece of paper making sure to add two or three extra low priority elements to the list and also having the last element, right before those two or three extra elements, having it also of low or medium priority.

List of training session elements

Buying Time

If during the actual delivery of the training session the trainer finds that one of the elements needs more time, depending on the amount of interaction of the trainees, he can easily provide such extra time for such activity. If due to taking such extra time the trainer finds there is no time remaining for the final low priority element he can easily discard it with minimal effect on the training program.

Filling Time

The two or three extra elements serve as a buffer in the opposite case when a trainer finds time still remaining in the session he can use such extra elements to fill in such time with useful elements.

Elastic Elements

A trainer may also change the sequence of elements during the actual delivery of a session. He may also expand or contract the time of some elements such as activities and questions at will.

This flexible method of planning for and managing session time avoids the problems faced by the more rigid traditional method such as cutting off student questions or not catering for varying student needs.

Have you ever faced a situation where there was too much time left or too little time left in a training session? What happened?


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