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Use this Framework for Your Best Presentations Yet

Deborah Swerdlow profile image

Deborah Swerdlow

man giving presentation

Think about the best presentations, workshops, or trainings you’ve attended—the ones that gave you new ideas, made you feel empowered or inspired, or pushed you to implement something new in the office.

None of that happened by accident. The person leading the session probably thought carefully about their goals and desired outcomes for the session. They decided what they wanted you to take away from it and then planned the content and format to achieve those outcomes.

A few years ago, a co-worker suggested the “know, feel, do” framework—a helpful approach for setting desired outcomes. As the name implies, it boils down to laying out what you want participants to know, feel, and do as a result of attending your session. I now use it for every meeting, presentation, or training that I plan.

Read on to learn what it looks like in practice, and to get some helpful tips to guide you in using this framework.

The "Know"

When you’re planning a presentation or training, you’ll probably have at least one (if not more) “know” statements in your desired outcomes. That’s because your expertise is the reason why you’re leading the session. For example: 

  • For a presentation at your organization’s board meeting, a desired outcome could be: “I want the board members to know what we learned from the community survey and how we’re adjusting our programs in response to the feedback.”
  • If you’re leading a fundraising workshop, one of your desired outcomes could be: “I want attendees to know how to craft an end-of-year fundraising strategy.”
  • If you’re training volunteers on how to staff a caller hotline, a desired outcome could be: “I want participants to know the hotline protocol and understand why it’s important.”

Achieving your "know" outcomes

Many people default to giving a slide presentation when they have knowledge to share—and that’s not always bad! But you don’t want to give a slide presentation that puts people to sleep or bombards them with information they won’t remember.

To make your slide presentations more engaging, try one of these ideas:

  • Incorporate interactivity, which helps people stay engaged and retain the information. For example, you can use an online tool like Kahoot! to set up a quiz or Poll Everywhere (which has a free option and four pricing levels) to set up a live poll. Pro Tip: Polls are a great way to add interactivity to virtual presentations like webinars!
  • Do a PechaKucha, a timed presentation where you show 20 images, each for 20 seconds, and the slides advance automatically. This format challenges you to keep your content short (6 minutes and 40 seconds total), and it challenges your audience to pay attention as things move quickly.
  • Supplement your presentation with role-playing scenarios or a worksheet to help attendees apply the information and reinforce what they learn.

The "Feel"

The renowned poet Maya Angelou said, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

This saying applies to interpersonal interactions and larger settings like presentations, workshops, and trainings. No matter how well you structure your session, some of the knowledge you share will eventually fade. But the feelings people experienced in your session—positive or negative—will remain vivid.

If you’re intentional about your desired outcomes and how you run the session, you can avoid instilling feelings of boredom or exasperation. Using the same three examples from above you could aspire to one of these positive “feel” outcomes:

  • Board presentation: “I want board members to feel committed to the program changes we are making as a result of the community survey.”  
  • Fundraising workshop: “I want attendees to feel excited about end-of-year fundraising instead of dreading it.”
  • Volunteer training: “I want volunteers to feel empowered to staff the hotline during their shifts and judge how to handle each situation.”

Achieving your "feel" outcomes

If you want people to feel empowered, role-playing scenarios will also do the trick here. Part of empowerment is feeling confident in your ability to do something, so a role-play gives you a chance to do it! 

People can also feel empowered by listening to success stories from their peers. This is often more convincing than hearing a workshop leader tell them they can do something.

For other “feel” outcomes, like feeling excited or inspired, think about what makes you feel that way in a presentation or workshop. Is it hearing new ideas? Brainstorming how you’ll implement these ideas back home? Connecting with other people in the room and discussing what you’ve learned? You can also ask friends and colleagues these questions to inform how you structure your session.

The "Do"

In some ways, this is the entire point of your session. Ultimately, you want people to do something—whether that’s doing something new or doing something differently.

These desired outcomes don’t always include the word “do,” but they are action-oriented. For example:

  • Board presentation: “I want board members to act as ambassadors in the community for the program changes we are making.”  
  • Fundraising workshop: “I want attendees to revise and share their end-of-year fundraising plans with each other to receive feedback.”
  • Volunteer training: “I want volunteers to complete three shifts in the next six months.

Achieving your “do” outcomes

One way to get people to do something as a result of your session is to ask them to make a commitment at the end. Writing down their commitment increases the likelihood that they’ll follow through. You can also ask people to share their commitment with someone next to them or with the full group, so others can hold them accountable to following through.

Another way to achieve these desired outcomes is to incorporate the action itself (not just the commitment) into the end of your session. For example, you can set aside a portion of the fundraising workshop for people to revise their end-of-year fundraising plan and get real-time feedback from their peers.

Final tips

Make sure the content you cover—and how it's delivered—will help achieve your desired "know, feel, do" outcomes. We've got a few final tips to get you started:

  • Your desired outcomes need to match the time you have—meaning that if you only have 30 minutes, you probably can’t accomplish five outcomes. If you feel like you’re trying to pack too much into the time, consider whether to de-prioritize one or more of the outcomes.
  • Prepare people for the session so they know what to expect. If you have a way to communicate with attendees beforehand, you can share the desired outcomes—they don’t have to be a secret! People like knowing what they can expect from a session. This means you’ll get people in the room who want to be there and are committed to those outcomes.
  • If you’re going to survey people afterward to get feedback and inform your debrief of the session, structure your evaluation to measure the desired outcomes. For example, you can ask people to rate how much they agree with one of your “know, feel, and do” statements, such as “I felt empowered about…” or “I learned…”


How will you use this framework the next time you plan a presentation, workshop, or training? Tweet at us to share your experience. 

Deborah Swerdlow profile image

Deborah Swerdlow

As a nonprofit advocacy professional living in Washington, D.C., Deborah works with groups across the country to educate their communities and lawmakers about public policies that can help low-income residents make ends meet. She is passionate about helping people connect their interests to a cause they believe in and empowering them to take action.

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