How to make your training stick

Staff skills training can be an expensive waste of time if not planned and delivered in a logical fashion, without consideration for how learners absorb and retain information.

Having a written lesson design helps ensure that a training session is organised and delivered in a logical order, within the time made available.

The Tell, Show, Do, Review model of training not only provides a useful outline for how a training session should be planned and delivered, but it also ensures that multiple senses are engaged for the trainees. The end result is a training session that appeals to a broad range of learning styles and establishes new habits.

This methodology easy to remember and can be applied to both technical skills and soft skills.

The root of this system comes from the old Confucius quote:

‘’I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I do and I understand.’’

Stage 1 – Tell

This is the first stage, it’s the introduction to the topic, the goals and objectives for the session. As a part of the introduction, this is the time to “hook” the audience with an explanation of ‘’What’s in it for them’’.

A helpful tool for remembering the necessary elements of a good training introduction is the acronym – I.N.T.R.O.

I – Interest – Create interest and desire to learn

N Need – Explain why they need to know

T – Title – Give the task or topic a name

R – Range – Give an outline of the range of activities for the session

O – Objective – State the expected performance standard once trained

When setting performance objectives, try to answer:

  • What does ‘’good’’ look like?
  • What should the person be able to do when fully trained?
  • What are the performance standards?
    • think quantity, quality, time
  • What materials, tools or conditions apply?
  • How will you test the performance of the person?


Stage 2 – Show

First, the trainer gives a full explanation of all the steps and key points and shows the trainee how the procedure is done. This step involves:

  • Showing the trainee how the task is done at normal pace
  • Giving a verbal explanation, as well as using audio/visual aids where possible
  • Engaging as many senses as possible to enhance the learning process

Wherever possible the trainer should demonstrate the skill and then explain it, but sometimes it’s more appropriate to explain the process first.

It is beneficial for the trainer to demonstrate the task at normal speed, then demonstrate again with full explanation of all the steps, including what, how and why.


Stage 3 – Do

This stage allows the trainee time to practice the new skill with the help and support of the trainer. The trainee should get to practice the task until it can be consistently performed to the standard outlined in the performance objectives.

With technical skills, the trainee can practice the task, guided by the trainer with open questions, praise, recognition and encouragement to positively reinforce the key points.

With soft skills, the trainee can role-play the new skill with other trainees or with the trainer. It is critical that the trainer prompts with questions to check for understanding of the key points at this stage.


Stage 4 – Review

This stage of the training is where the lesson is reviewed so the trainer can double – check that the trainee/s have understood and retained the information. The trainer also ensures that the new skill will be put into practice after the training session.

The steps to conclude a training session can be remembered by the acronym – R.E.V.I.E.W.

R – Recognise – the trainee for their effort (praise)

E  – Encourage – the trainee to continue to practice independently

V  – Validate – make the trainee feel valued and worthy

I – Information – give information & invite questions

E – Emergency – explain where/who to get help from, if needed

W – What’s next – explain what training comes next and when

When the trainee shows the ability to perform the new skill, the trainer should arrange for the trainee to practice the new skill on their own. The trainer can do this by setting targets, follow-up dates, and giving the trainee work which involves utilization of the new skill.

At the end of the session the trainer should praise the trainee and invite any questions. The trainee should also be made aware of the skills they will learn next once they can perform the task to the required standard. Remember: when you stop training someone, you’re giving them an incentive to quit.

To get a complete understanding of this staff training methodology along with some hands-on experience with coaching and feedback, consider the 2-day How to Train workshop, run regularly in Melbourne.

Chris Lambert