The 5 Secrets of Highly Effective Leader Training – From Around the World (Part 5)

This last in a series reveals the final secret to highly effective leader training.

Secret 5 – “Tell and show.”

When I was growing up we had a class time in school called “Show and Tell.” Each kid would bring something from their life to show and then talk about. It was sometimes interesting, much of the time pretty average, but occasionally it was amazing.

A variation on this very principle can transform your leader training from average to amazingly effective!

Here’s the problem:

While the objective of training is for your leaders to remember and apply what you have taught them, psychologists tell us that your students will only remember 5% or less of your training an hour after it ends.

Most training just tells leaders how to handle situations. Let’s take the dominating personality situation as an example. You want to teach leaders how to respond to the person that will inevitably join their group – the never-ending talker, the “it’s all about me” person. The result of typical training is that your leaders will have heard your techniques explained, but when they face this situation in their group they will struggle to remember what it was you told them, and be unable to apply the principle.

Don’t let that discourage you.

The most effective trainers know how to improve the odds of their leaders remembering key points from their training.

“Tell and show” puts a powerful memory weapon to work.

Highly effective leader training can still include lectures with PowerPoint presentations and audio and video, great stories and testimonies. But the secret ingredient to improve retention and application of techniques is to demonstrate the principle in practice with a live group.

“Tell and Show” works like this: instead of simply telling, select a few people out of the participants in your training to form a demonstration group. Have them come up front and sit in a circle. Instruct one of them on how to be the dominating personality. (Of course, some people will not need any instruction.) Next, explain a technique for handling the situation and have the demonstration group try it in front of everyone.

Your points will be much better understood because everyone watched them in action, and each person in attendance will recognize the situation when it happens in their group LATER, and they’ll remember how to deal with it. If you have multiple techniques demonstrate each one.

Use this same “Tell and Show” approach in video training, where you don’t just tell people how to handle things, you show them by having a group demonstrate the principle at work.

This secret requires a little extra work, but it will be so gratifying when your leaders tell you later that a situation happened in their group, they remembered your demonstration, they used the technique, and it worked!

Here’s a recap of the five secrets that you can use to take your leader training to the next level:

  1. Start with an effective vision
  2. Leaders are not born, they’re raised
  3. Leader training is not an event
  4. Train the entire group, not just the leader
  5. Tell and show

Remember, an important role of all leaders is to raise other leaders. Healthy groups birth more healthy leaders. The end result is worth the little extra work that you’ll put into creating exceptional training. Highly effective training will help create a vibrant, healthy, reproducing small group ministry. God will be honored and you will have made a difference.



  • Ron Wilbur

    Ron is formerly the Pastor of Small Group Health at Saddleback Church in Orange County, California. Ron co-leads our connections team and leads the international team connecting SGN members outside of North America.

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Daniel Thomas

Connections Director


Daniel serves as Executive Pastor at Community Church of Mountain City, TN.  Daniel and his family are on a mission to establish roots within their community, fight for peace and serve well.  He serves as our Connections Director in laying the groundwork for Circles. He loves great coffee and traveling with his wife Tia and two children, Deklan and Aden



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