Create Inspiring Presentations

As the hour draws to a close the speaker comments on what a great bunch your group has been. She was so concerned things would not go well because she was not sure what she had to offer would meet the needs of the of the team. She asks of there are any questions; there are none, and thanks you all for coming. You stand up hoping to sneak out of the room before your boss has an opportunity to corner you about the poor performance of your direct report during the monthly senior staff training. Too late. He yells across the room to meet him in his office in five minutes. What went wrong?

Leaders often make presentations. Use a presentation objective to stay on target and inspire your audience.
Photo by Christina Morillo on

Making presentations in the workplace is a common function of those in leadership potions. We all suffered though those that miss the mark time wise running so much longer than necessary, were totally boring, or left us wondering what the the point of the presentation was. These presentations are intended to keep fellow workers up-to-date on hot topics from a subject matter expert. Powerful presentations are not guaranteed just because the presenter possesses expert knowledge. Their lack of understanding how to create and deliver quality presentations deny the members of the organization the inspiration to do great things with what they learned. Even when the person makes a great presentation, they may end up talking about everything except the one or two areas of concern for your organization. Taking the time to identify objectives of what you want participants to learn helps you and the presenter focus on material that will enlighten, educate, and inspire. Steven Covey calls it beginning with the end in mind.

It may seem too simple to write out a comprehensive presentation objective. Doing so focuses the efforts of the presenter on the information which helps the audience achieve the final goal of the event. The end result is a focused presentation meeting the needs of the audience.

There are three important parts of every presentation objective, whether it is the capstone objective, or a smaller piece of the puzzle. The parts are action, condition and standard. The action is what you want the student to learn how to accomplish when they complete the training. An example might be something like, “The clerk will complete a telephonic customer order on the computer.” The conditions for the task or action to be completed should include the environment and any tools or resources available while completing the action. Finally spell out how someone will know when the staff achieved success by stating the standard. This can be performance steps, standards for a finished product, a score on an examination or any other means of measuring performance. Often in a staff development event this may be as simple as, “The employee responds correctly to questions during discussion.”

This is a sample of an objective for a staff meeting presentation where there will be no formal testing.

Action: Complete a telephonic customer order on the computer.

Conditions: During a staff development event and random questions from the instructor.

Standard: Correctly answer questions related to taking a customer order on the phone and entering the data into the computer.

Ideally action statements start with a verb. Conditions describe resources available to complete the action. Standards should be measurable and attainable, very much like setting SMART goals.

As a leader, it is important to talk with your people about your expectations before they present to a group. Teach them to create an appropriate objective.

Photo by nappy on

Establishing learning objectives when assigning someone to conduct training improves communication and enables the trainer to understand the perceived needs of organization. Given an objective such as the one above instead of some generic statement like, “Hey Smith, I need you to give a class on that new software at the next staff training conference next week.” With the first, employees should walk out of the training understanding how to take customer orders using the new software. Who knows what you will get with the second. When you are tasked to provide training, have an understanding of the process. It allows you to develop an appropriate objective so you can run it by the person who assigned it. The objective helps you focus your attention on what is necessary to meet expectations.

Developing objectives for your presentation helps you focus on sharing important information in the time allowed for staff to achieve a given task. When assigned, both the leader and the presenter create a shared expectation of the finished product. Quality learning objectives contain three parts, the action, the conditions, and the standards. When assigned by your leader to present to others, using a presentation objective ensures you and he understand what is expected. Do not let your next presentation flop. Take the time to develop an objective for the time you are given to teach others.


Covey, Stephen R. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. electronic edition. New York, NY: Rosetta Books, 2012.