Research – Objective

Objective setting can be a powerful tool because:

  1. It will save you time. If you are clear about what you want to achieve, it makes collecting all the information a lot easier.
  2. It gives you a metric upon which to measure the success of your presentation.
  3. It gives you focus, especially for team presentations. When someone wants to add an amazing idea to a presentation, like dressing up as star wars characters because the ideas are out of this world, then you can ask whether this meets the agreed objective of “we want our audience to think of us as professionals!”
  4. It also keeps a team presentation on the same page.
  5. It ensures you are not being too cautious or too ambitious when thinking about what you want to achieve.

A Definition

We are going to define an objective as ” the object or aim of an action”  (Locke & Latham 2002). In this context Locke and Latham are defining a goal, however a short term goal and an objective are essentially the same. When referring to this definition Green & Palmer 2018, say that goals or sub goals need to be SMART, specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound. Below we discuss this model and a couple of others.

The SMART Model

The SMART model was developed in 1981 by George Doran (Doran 1981) who built on the work of Professor Edwin A Locke in 1968.

SMART stands for:

S – Specific: A clearly articulated objective.
M – Measurable: Use a quantifiable metric to track performance.
A – Attainable: You have the resources to achieve the goal (skills, money, support, etc.)
R – Relevant: The goal is worthwhile, meaningful, and should be attempted.
T – Time-bound: Give the target a finish date.

Here’s a great resource for setting SMART goals from the University of California

GROW Model

Sir John Whitmore popularised the GROW model in the1980s in his book Coaching for Performance. (Whitmore 2010).

GROW stands for:

  • Goal – What do you want to do? What is your ultimate aim?
  • Reality – Where are you now? What are some of the barriers preventing you from achieving your objective?
  • Options – What could you do? What are the resources available to you?
  • Will or Way forward– What will you do? How can you tap into available resources to achieve your objective?

In a presentation context this may sound something like this:

  • Goal: To get management to agree that the new training program is worth investing in.
  • Reality: The audience has limited funds but understands the need for the program.
  • Options: Demonstrate how the program will result in not only increased morale but also an immediate return on investment.
  • Will / Way forward: Gather testimonies as to the motivational nature of the program and quantify how the efficiencies gained exceed the investment.

See for more detail.

From To, Think Do

Andrew Abela’s “From To Think Do” matrix is probably one of the most effective and simplest tools for setting a presentation objective.

Simply ask of your audience, what are they thinking now (from) and what do you want them to think (to) and then, what are they doing now (from) and what do you wan them to do (to).

This also acts as a check as to whether the gap between the From and the To are too big or too small. If there is no difference, then we need to ask why we are presenting at all!


Green, S & Palmer, S 2018, Positive Psychology Coaching in Practice, Taylor & Francis Group, Milton, UNITED KINGDOM.

Locke, EA & Latham, GP 2002, ‘Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation: A 35-year odyssey’, American Psychologist, vol. 57, no. 9, pp. 705-717.

Doran, GT 1981, ‘There’s a SMART Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives’, Management Review, vol. 70, pp. 35-36.

Locke, EA & Latham, GP 2002, ‘Building a Practically Useful Theory of Goal Setting and Task Motivation’, American Psychologist, vol. 57, no. 9, pp. 705-717.

Whitmore, J 2010, Coaching for Performance : GROWing Human Potential and Purpose: The Principles and Practice of Coaching and Leadership, Nicholas Brealey Publishing, London, UNITED STATES.