AIMS: To determine whether differences in the amount of time educators talk during a self-management education programme relate to the degree of change in participants' reported beliefs about diabetes. METHOD: Educators trained to be facilitative and non-didactic in their approach were observed delivering the DESMOND self-management programme for individuals newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Observers used 10-s event coding to estimate the amount of time educators spoke during different sessions in the programme. Facilitative as opposed to didactic delivery was indicated by targets for levels of educator talk set for each session. Targets were based on earlier pilot work. Using the revised Illness Perceptions Questionnaire (IPQ-R) and the Diabetes Illness Representations Questionnaire (DIRQ), participants completed measures of: perceived duration of diabetes (timeline IPQ-R), understanding of diabetes (coherence IPQ-R), personal responsibility for influencing diabetes (personal responsibility IPQ-R), seriousness of diabetes (seriousness DIRQ) and impact on daily life (impact DIRQ), before and after the education programme. RESULTS: Where data from the event coding indicated educators were talking less and meeting targets for being less didactic, a greater change in reported illness beliefs of participants was seen. However, educators struggled to meet targets for most sessions of the programme. CONCLUSION: The amount of time educators talk in a self-management programme may provide a practical marker for the effectiveness of the education process, with less educator talk denoting a more facilitative/less didactic approach. This finding has informed subsequent improvements to a comprehensive quality development framework, acknowledging that educators need ongoing support to facilitate change to their normal educational style.