Thomas Fuller was an English clergyman from the 17th century with a flair for catchy sayings, such as “If you command wisely, you’ll be obeyed cheerfully”. As PADI Divemasters, you don’t necessarily command people – but your advice, direction (and ok, yes – occasionally your orders!) are regularly required by the divers you look after.
We caught up with PADI EMEA Instructor Examiner, Rich Somerset, for some tips on how to give a good dive briefing.
“Everyone has their own style and most of us develop our approach as we gain experience. As a new Divemaster, I was painfully shy when confronted with large groups of divers. I shamelessly took ideas, phrases and jokes from my more knowledgeable colleagues and found that I gradually gained confidence. Eventually I listened to the dive briefings of the newest dive guides at the store and realised that they had started borrowing comments from my dive briefings to build theirs; perhaps it is all part of the natural development of the art of dive briefing?”
So, Rich, in your opinion what will help PADI Divemasters give a really good dive brief?
“Make it accurate. Well duh! Actually, this may seem obvious, but it’s worth remembering that if you don’t give a briefing that is correct, everything else is wasted. Winging it on any presentation is a bad idea. A good start to ensure you deliver a comprehensive and to the point dive briefing is to review your Divemaster materials, particularly the briefing slates. Sometimes there are variables in diving that we cannot always account for: if you don’t know which way the current is going, either find out in advance, or be honest and make sure your divers are prepared to react to the conditions they face in the water.
Be visual. One of the best dive briefings I saw was delivered by an Egyptian Divemaster, who created a 3D model of the dive site on the dive deck from towels. Now we are not all as creative as that, but even if your art skills leave little to be desired, having some kind of diagram makes a big difference. Whiteboards are reasonably tough, inexpensive and waterproof, so they are the choice for most dive guides.
Be clear. We often have groups of divers who speak a range of languages. My greatest fault with my first dive briefings was a tendency to talk really really fast. I only realised this when one of my colleagues, who was trying to translate my briefing to part of a group, pointed it out. It takes a conscious effort to pace yourself; you need to slow down and remember to speak at a normal pace, or sometimes even a little slower.
Relax. Usually, we are far harder on ourselves than other people would be – don’t beat yourself up worrying about delivering a brief; if you pause or stutter over a word here or there, your divers won’t notice or mind.”
So if you find dive briefings a challenge, try throwing one or more of these tips into the next one you deliver; you may be surprised by how much of a difference it makes!
You can re-order your Divemaster Dive Briefing Slates (product number 60207) by contacting the PADI EMEA Sales Department at: firstname.lastname@example.org