The target outcome is something that will change as the result of your words and/or actions. It’s the end result you hope to achieve.
To get laser-focused, I use a tool I call the Target Outcome Scope. It’s like a scope on a rifle or crossbow, to help make sure my communication is aimed at the right target.
You start with the center of the target by asking the question, “What do I want people to DO or SAY differently as a result of this interaction with me?” That’s your target outcome.
It’s not as effective to try to get them to know something; you need to think about what you want them to DO or SAY. Create a clear understanding in your mind of the one target outcome you desire.
Then identify 1-3 objectives that will produce the outcome you want – for example, “catch their attention, make them laugh, and pique their interest for more information.” Picture those as three arrows defining the “how” that will hit your target outcome.
Here are two hints for defining effective objectives…
- Think about the challenges or objections you will need to overcome with your audience to accomplish your target outcome.
- State your objectives as action verbs. It needs to describe the impact you want to have on another person.
Example: How to Use the Target Outcome Scope
I’m a volunteer for a local non-profit that serves mothers and fathers in need. My role is providing classes and coaching about effective parenting.
A while ago, I started a series of coaching sessions with a father. Going into the first session, I knew that Ed (not his real name) was a janitor by occupation, and that he requested our help because he felt he had failed to be a good father to his older children from a previous marriage. Now that he had remarried and had a six-month old son, he wanted mentoring so he could be a better dad this time around.
Based on that limited information, when I prepared for that first session, I couldn’t identify anything specifically related to parenting that I thought Ed should say or do as a result of our first meeting. So I scoped a target outcome that I thought would be a building block for future outcomes: I wanted Ed to say that he enjoyed our time together and believes he can learn valuable insights from me.
Then I thought about the challenges I would face in achieving the target outcome. I was concerned that Ed could be apprehensive about me; he might perceive me as an authority on parenting, or a “perfect parent” who would be judgmental of his past failures. Also, I knew he was a blue-collar manual laborer; he could view a white-collar professional like me as out-of-touch with his issues. And as every counselor or coach knows, a common challenge is that clients may forget whatever lessons you may try to teach during any given session.
To overcome those challenges and achieve the target outcome, I identified three objectives for the first session:
- Make a friend (build rapport with Ed).
- Listen to identify one take-away lesson that Ed agrees is helpful.
- Reinforce the take-away with a story that Ed will remember.
Did I achieve the target outcome for that first session? Yes, and here is how I know: During our second session, without any prompting, Ed commented on how helpful it was to talk with me about being a good dad, and he related that he had shared my story with his wife.
- The Target Outcome should answer the question, “What do I want people to DO or SAY differently as a result of this interaction with me?”
- To identify objectives, it’s helpful to think about the challenges or objections you will need to overcome with your audience to accomplish your Target Outcome.
- State your objectives as action verbs that describe the impact I seek to have on another person. Then identify 1-3 objectives that will produce the outcome you want. They define the “how” that will hit your target outcome.