In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it.

Robert Heinlein (1907–1988)
US Science Fiction author

Quote Robert Heinlein Clearly-defined goals

If you have a goal in mind, then go ahead! If you don’t have an objective leave it or start your goal setting for workshops. By formulating it in a SMART way you will be able to evaluate and analyse your performance in order to improve the next time:


There might be other methods but SMART proved to be the most practical. Yes, it’s hard to formulate and you better do it the first time with a friend or mentor but the benefit turns out always in terms of goal achieving or learning.

SMART goal setting for workshops

SMART Principle for goal setting
Only SMART objectives are goals – anything else is a wish list.

This SMART formula has proved to be very pragmatic and easy to remember. Nonetheless, it’s not that easy to implement — especially because we all want to cheat ourselves and whitewash our results. Therefore, let me explain the individual points briefly:

  • Specific: This means narrowing down your objectives in a way that makes them achievable.
  • Measurable: This means you will need an indicator by which (quantity is easier, but not as good as quality) you will be able to measure your results and say, ‘I’ve met my own target.’
  • Attractive: You will only be motivated to work for the task if the objective is attractive to you! Attracting the Target Audience will be dealt with later. Here, I am concerned only with you and your willingness to dedicate your time, capability and energy towards achieving a specific goal.
  • Realistic: In order to measure the success of something, the goal must be achievable.
  • Timed: Time is an absolute requirement for any planning.

To make this type of goal setting for workshops clearer, I will give an example scenario. Imagine, if you will, that you are organising a workshop on the Right to Information (RTI). In this scenario, the following might serve as the guidelines:

SMART women know what they want.
SMART women know what they want.

S The goal is that participants — members of civil society organisations and journalists — will file RTI requests from government departments.

M 10 per cent of them will do so within six months of the workshop (verifying this also provides a means of maintaining a relationship beyond the workshop itself)

A The goal is driven by my conviction that the Right to Information is key for a functioning democracy. I want to see the development of democracy in Pakistan, which is only possible given a certain degree of governmental transparency. This is a cause I am dedicated to.

R The participants are made aware of both the benefits and the practicalities of filing for RTI requests and their attendance at the workshop stimulates them to do so as well as providing practical information on how to do it.

T The goals of the workshop will be measured after six months.


Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs.

Henry Ford (1890—1969)
American Industrialist

Break it down! A seminar is part of a bigger plan or strategy. Like building a house brick by brick, it contributes to a larger objective. On the other hand, each session within the seminar or training contributes to the overall objective of the seminar/training session, whether it is a three-hour group session or a five-minute energiser. Everything is there for a purpose. Consequently, you should be aware of how and if a module or session supports wider goals. If this is not the case, we strongly suggest skipping it.

Review your goals

In order to learn and to improve it is crucial to review your objectives after your performance (see post-processing). Be honest to yourself or even better: do it with a friend who is honest and neutral. That is when real learning and improving starts. Only by reflection you will improve your next goal setting for workshops.

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