The STEPE model for rapid skill transfer

How do you create content that allows for rapid skill transfer? Well, it is simple if, like me, you have over 19 years of training experience, a Certificate IV in Training & Assessment, ran two international training firms, and are well versed in the ‘Four Learning Styles’ as well as Mumford and Honey’s ‘Learning Types’. Yes, this is blatant trumpet blowing, I know.

The good news is we’ve bottled this expertise into Keynote to Coach’s systematic skill transfer model called STEPE. The STEPE acronym is easy to remember, logical, taps into learning methodology, and helps sort out the golden nuggets from the dunny nuggets.

STEPE stands for:

  • Skill,
  • Theory,
  • Example,
  • Practice, and
  • Evaluation.

I’ve personally used the STEPE methodology to develop training modules which have formed courses in leadership, sales, presentation skills, how to use the office coffee machine, and even how to write stand-up comedy! If there’s a skill that needs to be taught, then STEPE can be used to teach it.

Let’s take a look at each letter in the acronym.


Training is not about knowledge, but rather about doing. If we want to know something, we can simply read a book, or more likely, Google it – since we have the world’s library in our pockets. If we want to be able to do something we couldn’t do before, then we need to be trained in that Skill.

And the first step in teaching another person a skill is to clearly set out the expectations and outcome. At Keynote to Coach, we like to use another acronym, PAB: Personal, Actionable, and Beneficial. At the beginning of every new STEPE module, we recommend making the following declaration to the participants:

“By the end of this module, YOU will be able to USE the ‘Four Ds of Time Management’ to become more EFFICIENT in your workplace.”

In the sentence above, YOU is personal, USE is actionable and EFFICIENT is the benefit.

Here’s another example:

“By the end of this article, YOU’LL be able to CREATE your own STEPE module, so you can convert your keynote into an online workshop and MAKE MONEY.”

Again, YOU’LL is personal, CREATE is actionable, and MAKE MONEY is the benefit. And yes, you got it! I’m using STEPE to teach STEPE!

At Keynote to Coach we like to be explicit with the Skill declaration, as you can see in the screen shot below from Steve van Aperen’s module ‘Benchmarking and Testing to Uncover Deception’. The participants of Steve’s course, whether it’s live or self-paced, know exactly what they are about to learn, and for the pragmatists in the group, they can see a direct benefit.

Again, in the example above, Steve uses the word personal YOU, mentions the actions of BENCHMARK and TEST, and highlights that the benefit is that you will uncover DECEPTIVE BEHAVIOUR.

Now that your audience knows what to expect, it’s time to tell them what they are going to learn – the Theory!


The Theory is the guts of what you’re teaching. It’s a detailed dive into the skill. It can be presented as a video or text, as is the case in Steve van Aperen’s course ‘Benchmarking and Testing to Uncover Deception’, built by Keynote to Coach. In Steve’s Theory section, we’ve chosen to use both video and text, due to the complexity of the skill. Those that like to learn visually will find the video valuable, whereas those that like to read may gain a better understanding through the text. Either way, both the video and the text discuss the theory, which is that there are three steps to test for deception: Benchmark using historical events, observe changes, and dig deeper.

If you were, say, teaching the Keto Diet, the Theory section would describe how the body increases its utilisation of body fat for energy when you starve it of carbohydrates. In the case that you were coaching presentation skills, your Theory section could describe how open arms, rather than

crossed or clasped hands, will create the impression of confidence, both to your audience and to your subconscious mind, thus creating a positive feedback loop. And if you were training a course on stand-up comedy, your Theory might be that one joke structure is the ‘Normal-Normal-Twist’ model, where the first two parts of your joke are normal statements, whereas the third line is generally the funny and unexpected twist.

A word of warning. Before you start designing how you’ll teach your Theory, be sure it meets these three criteria. It’s:

  1. Logical,
  2. Relevant, and
  3. Real.

If your Theory is that ’email is the only internal communication tool’ then some may deem that as illogical, particularly since modern day offices is unrecognisable from even 10 years ago. Participants might argue that a combination of face-to-face meetings, phone calls, even instant messenger tools, are necessary given the specific scenario.

Relevance is also important – both in terms of culture and time. If you’re teaching the ‘7 aspects of an attractive MySpace page’, then you’re about 15 years late.

And finally, if your Theory is based on pseudoscience or a sample size of one, then it really can’t be considered real. I’m surprised at the number of new trainers I meet who spruik theories that are barely more than snake oil.

But even if your Theory is logical, relevant and real, it doesn’t mean that you’ll convince your audience. This is why you need an Example.


Every Theory needs proof. If a participant announced, “I don’t believe you!”, what would be your response? Would you reply, “Trust me” or “Please believe me”? Or would you show that naysayer evidence?

The Example section of STEPE separates the good from the great trainers. A good trainer might just share a personal story. A great trainer would present an audio or video (right), or a detailed written case study. A trainer could invite a key opinion leader (KOL) into the class, whether thats online or in person. Pragmatic attendees to your training will be the most critical of this section, so don’t skimp. Otherwise they’ll respond with “the training wasn’t relevant”.


Just because your trainees understand and can recite verbatim, doesn’t mean they have the skill. After all, no one can ride a bike by reading a book or watching a video. To transfer a skill it takes practice, practice and more practice. So develop activities, that can be done in groups or individually, online or in person. For a lot of keynote speakers, this part can be difficult, mostly because you have to stop talking!

Beware, however. Some cultures, when put into groups, will delegate one person to demonstrate while the others watch. Likewise, some groups will break up the skill into parts, so that nobody can demonstrate the entire skill set. Clearly this defeats the purpose of practice. Remind your attendees that just as riding a bike requires the combination of peddling, steering and balance, so too does your skill require the mastering of all parts.


The final step of STEPE is Evaluation. Depending on your training format, this can be done simultaneously while participants are doing practice, delayed to the end where groups or individuals demonstrate their new skill, or alternatively via an online test with feedback. But be careful. You must evaluate the skill, and not just the participants ability to recount your Theory. If someone simply wants to know information then they don’t need to engage with you or buy your workshop. Google and Youtube are all that’s necessary.

So there you have it. The STEPE method is a logical, easy and based on adult learning principles. Now look at your keynote presentations, and identify where each of the STEPE sections apply. And, of course, if you’re in need of assistance, then do reach out to Keynote to Coach via our Contact Form.