Create the session objective

Related areas
TL;DR recommendations
—Always start with the end in mind: What should participants know, or be able to do by the end of the session? —Craft precise objectives, that start with action verbs; —Communicate them to the participants beforehand

Armed with a clear scope and some insights into your audience needs, it’s time to work out the session objectives, before moving into the design phase. You have limited time, and won’t be able to focus on everything. Objectives are there to help you focus on what’s important. Objectives are important for several reasons, mainly because:

  • They provide a roadmap for your as facilitator, but also for the participants, by defining what they will accomplish, learn, or be able to do by the end of the session
  • They help you during the process of selecting and organizing the relevant content and the activities for the session
  • They are the cornerstones for any type of evaluation you’ll do to assess the effectiveness or impact of the session

The key to defining any session objective is to start with the end in mind.

What should participants know, or be able to do by the end of the session?

Once that is clear, you can formulate the session objectives:

  • Start with action verbs (e.g., explain, demonstrate, apply).
  • Be precise about what is to be achieved. Some sessions are about raising awareness, others are about understanding new concepts, others are centered bout decision-making and problem-solving of a concrete challenge, and so on.

Let’s have a look at some common objectives you’ll most likely come across if you are designing and delivering workshops and training sessions.

  1. Knowledge and Skills Development:
    • To understand and/ or apply [specific concepts, techniques, or tools].
    • To reduce production time by 25% within the next 6 months for the production team.
  2. Strategic Planning and Goal Setting:
    • To develop a clear and actionable strategic plan for [the upcoming year, a specific project, etc.].
    • To set achievable and measurable goals for [a department, team, or project].
  3. Problem-Solving and Innovation:
    • To identify and analyze key challenges facing [the team, department, or organization].
    • To brainstorm and develop two innovative solution concepts to [specific issues or obstacles].
  4. Team Building and Collaboration:
    • To enhance team collaboration and strengthen interpersonal relationships.
    • To align team members around common goals and objectives.
  5. Change Management:
    • To prepare for and effectively manage organizational change.
    • To develop strategies for successfully implementing new systems or processes.
  6. Decision Making:
    • To facilitate informed decision-making regarding [a specific issue or strategic direction].
    • To explore and evaluate different options or alternatives for action.
  7. Stakeholder Engagement:
    • To engage stakeholders in dialogue and gather input on [a particular project or policy].
    • To build consensus among the group concerning [topic, issue].
  8. Performance Improvement:
    • To identify strategies for improving individual or team performance.
    • To develop one concrete action plan for achieving performance targets.
  9. Customer Focus and Market Analysis:
    • To gain insights into customer needs and preferences.
    • To analyze market trends and develop strategies for competitive advantage.
  10. Feedback and Evaluation:
    • To collect and discuss feedback on [a specific product, service, or process].
    • To evaluate the success of [a project, initiative, or strategy] and identify areas for improvement.

No mater the session you are designing for, there are some pitfalls you’d want to avoid when crafting objectives. —Ignoring the discovery phase you've done beforehand: the context of the client, and the needs of the participants;

—Crafting objectives that are too vague, or that cannot easily be measured;

—Create too many objectives for the time you have available;

—Focusing only on objectives related to understanding and comprehension. Remember: you want the participants to apply, and change something. You want them to do something as a result of the session. So you’ll need to focus on objectives related to applicability, and transfer to their day-to-day reality.

—Not communicating them to the participants. While objectives are important for you as a designer, they are also important for the participants. Ensure you communicate them either in pre-session communication (e.g. email, or a video), or right at the start of the session.