4 Levels of Evaluation That Impact Your Business Bottom Line


Rick was not a professional speaker. And it showed. The squinting audience needed binoculars to read his crowded, disorganized PowerPoint®. His meandering and monotone voice was a lullaby to heavy eyelids. I was booked to deliver the opening keynote early in the day, and moderate Rick’s afternoon session. He droned about why the association had hired his team to develop a new training program, and how he assessed the usefulness of their pilot program. I was bored out of my gourd, but determined to do the best I could to keep the audience engaged, and my own eyes open.

Suddenly, I felt a double-espresso jolt! My thoughts swirled as Rick reminded the audience that Professor Donald Kirkpatrick’s method of measuring the effectiveness of educational programs (i.e., courses, conferences, association meetings) has been an accepted standard for decades. He pointed out that the four levels of evaluation are:

  1. Participant reactions (smile sheets)
  2. Skills or knowledge gained (tests)
  3. Changes in behavior on the job (applications at work)
  4. Business impact (bottom-line results)

I felt a bit lightheaded as I thought about how these levels of evaluation could impact my business. As you probably know, most training programs and association meetings are assessed using only smile sheets. (Level 1 = “They liked you. They really liked you!”) Now, imagine if your clients decided to take some of their meetings to a higher level (Level 3 = “How did your program change behaviors at work?”) In other words, what if your clients started judging who they want at their meeting by what happens after their meeting?

Rick closed his speech, the audience applauded politely, and I facilitated a brief question-and-answer session with a modicum of competence. Later, as I sat in the emptied meeting room, I contemplated my lessons learned, which have morphed into two questions that may help you serve your clients and boost your business:

  1. The privilege of the platform is more about what you say, not how you say it. How can you better research your content so your ideas (what you talk about) have a higher probability of achieving promised results?
  2. Leaving a lasting legacy depends on their deeds. What can you do to help the audience apply your ideas, so their actions echo your words? By answering the questions and acting on them, you will be happily surprised when your clients report that what you do onstage makes an even bigger difference off-stage.

By the way, “boring Rick” boosted my business because he motivated me to revamp my closing keynote called “Use It, Don’t Lose It—How to Apply What You Learn at ANY Meeting.” By facilitating a best practices session at the end of their meetings, I’m helping clients take their meetings to the next level by providing a powerful lesson in what really matters.

David Jensen

David Jensen

CEO/Founder at The Hiring Academy
David Jensen speaks on hiring, entrepreneurial business and team success. He is the author of the No. 1 best-seller, "The Naked Interview: Hiring Without Regret."
David Jensen
David Jensen
David Jensen

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