17 Professional Development Topic Ideas

Mary Gormandy White
Professional development ideas

Keeping a list of topic ideas on hand can be helpful for numerous professional development based tasks. You can use these topics for company newsletters, department meetings, employee evaluations, and conference presentations, for example.

General Topic Ideas

These topics are all general enough that you can come up with lots of sub-topic ideas that are specific to your company and industry.

1. How to Be an Effective Team Member

This can apply to small work teams, entire departments, or even your company as a whole. Give tips for working together to ensure that the entire team functions well and that all team members are realizing their potential.

2. Effective Time Management Tips

Managing time effectively can increase productivity and lower stress in the workplace. This topic can also relate to helping employees reach a better work/life balance.

3. Preparing to Step Up to a Management Role

Most employees strive for promotions that will eventually lead to a role in management. Discuss various steps that employees at all levels can take to prepare themselves for management positions within the company.

4. Working With a Mentor

Mentors often become lifelong friends and collaborators. Address how to find a mentor within your industry, discuss what to expect from this relationship, and explain how it can benefit both parties both short and long term.

5. Creative Problem Solving

Encourage employees to "think outside the box" when it comes to common problems or issues that arise within your business. Give examples of past employee innovations that have become part of your everyday workflow or company policy. Make sure they know who to approach with ideas and suggestions for solving problems.

6. Goal Setting Techniques

Setting professional goals can help employees get organized and give them a clear vision of where they want to go within the company. Company-wide goals can encourage productivity. Explore various techniques to set attainable goals for short-term projects and long term growth.

7. Cultivating Skills to Grow as an Informal Leader

Many people are looked to as leaders within a company or department even if they aren't officially part of the management team. Encourage all employees to learn leadership skills in their areas of expertise and offer a variety of resources that they can explore to further hone these techniques.

8. Developing the Ability to Influence Other People

Being a positive influence is important no matter where you are in the company's hierarchy. Influential people are more likely to be promoted and to have their voices heard. Sharing techniques to develop this important skill is a great way to empower your employees.

9. Tips for Making Effective Presentations

This can cover everything from presenting safety tips to new employees to making a boardroom presentation or delivering a presentation at a national conference. Give advice and guidance for planning, practicing, and putting together something that will be effective and memorable.

10. Streamlining Office Procedures

No one likes to get bogged down in office procedures that seem redundant and may be outdated. Offer suggestions for making procedures easier, faster, and more efficient for all employees from the bottom up.

11. Conflict Management Skills

Conflicts arise even in the most successful and employee-centric businesses. Learning how to handle these conflicts is important not only for those in leadership roles, but for all employees. Provide relevant information from your company's policies, and offer scenarios with solutions to illustrate how different types of conflicts can be handled by all parties involved.

12. Persuasive Communication Skills

Woman making presentation

Persuasive communication applies to a number of different situations and people. Leaders can use these skills to help keep their teams focused and on-task. Those in sales need to know how to be persuasive to woo clients and finalize deals. Employees may wish to present ideas to supervisors and request changes or improvements. Explore the various ways that persuasive communication skills can be used and honed.

13. Getting Comfortable in Public Speaking Situations

Fear of speaking in public is very common. Whether it's a simple presentation to fellow employees or a speech given to a large gathering at a conference, tips for being more confident and comfortable in front of an audience can be enormously helpful.

14. Criteria for Cultural Competence

Cultural competence can vary between industries and even between individual businesses. Define what it means for your company and explain the criteria that you are meeting to achieve it. For a larger conference presentation, explore ways that your industry as a whole can strive to raise the cultural competence bar.

15. Diversity and Inclusion in the Modern Workplace

Explore ways that employers, those in leadership roles, and all employees can support diversity and inclusion. Discuss how diversity can benefit a business, and how inclusion can make all employees more comfortable (and therefore happier) in the workplace.

16. How to Express Appreciation to Co-Workers

There are lots of appropriate ways to express your appreciation to a co-worker, but likewise there are many methods that may not be such a good idea. Explain the difference with examples, and highlight some great, simple ways for employees to let co-workers know that they are appreciated.

17. Dealing With Difficult Customers Effectively

Making a difficult customer happy can be trying even for the most patient and level-headed employee. Offer actionable tips for diffusing a difficult situation and keeping things under control while at the same time ensuring that the customer walks away feeling positive. Give examples of different types of customers and methods for dealing with them when they become difficult.

Choose Timely and Relevant Topics

No matter what you're using these topics for, they can be most effective when they are timely to what is happening within your business. When you focus on topics that are relevant, you're sending an important message to your employees that you care about helping them grow and develop just as much as you care about sharing events, announcements and policy changes with them.

17 Professional Development Topic Ideas