Lousy trainers lead lousy trainings.

Poor Trainers Lead Lousy Trainings

Celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis proved to be a poor trainer when a guest on the Ellen Degeneres Show. Actress Nicole Kidman joined Giada and Ellen in the studio kitchen for what turned out to be a nightmare training. Giada might be a talented cook but during this segment she proved to be a poor trainer.

The six-minute cooking segment quickly went off the rails when Giada was unable to effectively teach her two participants, the live audience and viewers. She showed that although a person can be an expert in a topic, it takes training skills and practice to instruct others. Even a six-minute training can be a disaster if the trainer doesn’t know how to train.

Poor trainers give poor trainings. Just because someone knows their content doesn’t mean they can teach. Training is a specialty that must be learned and perfected. It is the trainer’s responsibility to manage their student, time, supplies, activities, and content. Giada was not up to the task and proved to be a very poor trainer.

Let’s learn from Giada’s scattered appearance on Ellen.

  • What went wrong?
  • What could Giada have done to make this mini training a success?
  • How could Giada have managed her attendees better?
  • If you were the trainer and your seminar started to flounder, what could you do to gain control and get the training back on track?


Poor Trainer Great Trainer
Giada’s first recipe was for simple risotto balls. The word “balls” released Ellen’s inner twelve-year old boy and Ellen distracted the group with sexual innuendo. Right off the bat the segment was off track. Trainers: Stay positive and ignore chatter and side comments. Do not engage in banter. Talk to a disruptive participant during a break to help curb the behavior.


Giada criticizes Ellen’s attempt at forming a rice ball saying it looked like dog food. Trainers: Don’t criticize. Aid participants in coming up with a good solution. Give clear directions before people begin an exercise.
Ellen forms the balls but won’t listen to Giada when she requests they move on to the next step. Giada asks, “What are you doing? Stop rolling.” Ellen replies, “I want more (breadcrumbs) on there.” Ellen ignores Giada and drops the ball it back into the bowl of breadcrumbs. Trainers: Managing time is crucial. Use a stop watch to prepare for the training and practice, practice, practice in advance. Don’t let one participant slow the group unless everyone is having difficulty. “I will work with you during the break. Let’s move on now.”
Nicole forms a good ball and in relief Giada screams, “Oh my god! The woman who can’t cook made the perfect ball!” Trainers: Stay cool and collected if things get tense. Think before you speak especially if feeling panicky or frantic and never insult a participant even if you think you are being funny. (Read my blog post about Social Capital)
Nicole drops her rice ball into the oil and is instructed to leave it for 2-3 minutes. When Nicole requests a timer, Giada who failed to provide a timer gets flustered and blurts out nonsense, “there is no timer…you can put a timer on. Do you have a timer?” Nicole snorts sarcastically. Trainers:

1.      Prepare thoroughly and supply everything you might need during the training.

2.      Stay calm, keep your voice level and clearly explain directions. Be professional.

3.      Refrain from non-verbal communication. Snorting, guffawing, “pfft”ing, eye-rolling, arm waving, etc. is insulting.

Nicole worries that Ellen is being left out so she turns her back on Giada who is answering her question, and checks in on Ellen. Ellen is checked out. Trainers: Read the group and move onto a more interesting activity if you start to lose their attention. Stay engaged and focused. It is your job to keep the attention of the group.
Like a poor trainer, Giada gives up and says, “Forget it.” Trainers: Don’t give up. Re-engage the group if you feel you have lost them. “Watch this! This is the great part.” Practice in front of friends and volunteers before the event. Get real feedback.
Nicole asks Giada how to tell when the balls are done and then interrupts Giada’s response by loudly talking to Ellen. Ellen laughs and says, “Every time she starts to talk (Nicole) you turn around and tell me something.” Trainers:

1.      Establish Rules of the Road upfront so everyone understands appropriate behavior for your seminar.

2.      Discourage side-talk because it is disruptive and wastes time.

3.      Separate talkers by giving them separate activities or using them to demonstrate.

Giada finally gives up on the first recipe and says that Ellen’s balls are falling apart in the oil and making a mess of her work. Nicole agrees loudly that in fact, yes, Giada has made a mess. Nicole is very aware of the poor trainer leading the seminar. Trainers:

1.      Never lose patience with the group or blame participants for a misstep.

2.      Re-engage the group and move onto the next topic.

3.      Take complete ownership of your training.

Don’t include too much content!

Giada tells Ellen, “This is pizza dough from my restaurant.” Nicole sensing disaster, tries to take over for the poor trainer who has lost control and says to the audience, “There are many great cooks in the audience am I right?” Trainers: Don’t allow participants to hijack the group. Be a powerful and in control leader. Proper preparation allows a trainer to move swiftly and flawlessly from topic to topic and provides no opening for participants to break in and try to take over.
Ellen calls to her off-camera producer Andy who is cradling his head in his hands and she asks, “What do you want Andy? You keep motioning for us to move it along.”



Trainers:  Don’t fall apart if things aren’t going as planned. Have a contingency plan in place like a group game, a break-out session, or written activity.
Giada frantically exclaims, “We’re done! We’re done!” standing over a square of plain, raw pizza dough. (Obviously they aren’t done.) Trainers: Do not include too much into a seminar. It takes much longer to present the information than you think. Less is more. Practice over and over and over with a stop watch. Extra time, if there is any, can be used to answer questions.
Ellen makes a dumb joke about anise sounding like anus. “Thank you so much for bringing back anus seeds.” Giada is mortified and drops her head in defeat. “This is not going the way I was hoping.” Giada whines. Trainers: Don’t give up. It takes practice giving trainings to become a great trainer. Offer to give free trainings everywhere in your community. Practice in front of a group and gain experience. Take detailed notes about what went wrong and then correct those errors.
Giada makes one last ditch effort to complete the recipe but Nicole announces, “I’m giving up.”

The cameral turns to Ellen who is trying to gnaw through the tough focaccia and really mugging for the camera making fun of Giada’s recipe. Nicole is laughing gleefully.


Giada cries, “Why did I even bother doing a cooking segment?”

Nicole takes a bite of the focaccia and spits it out saying, “This is tough.”

Trainers: A properly prepared trainer who practices over and over before giving the training will be successful.

Great trainers are not born they work at it and learn from their mistakes. They know their content cold and stay calm under pressure.

Take detailed notes about what went right and wrong. Have participants complete a seminar evaluation and be open to change. Feedback is a gift!

If you would like to be a great trainer and teach children and teens social skills, communication skills and life skills then pick your program today. We teach you all of the content you need to be an expert in the topics and how to be a great trainer. Our online programs make it easy to complete your program. We are IACET accredited proving we adhere to the highest standards in continuing education and training. You can have the career that you love when you become a certified social skills trainer. Start now!