Let a handout take your presentation to the next level

Mike Taylor
Mike Taylor // April 4, 2017

Last time we met here, I touched on a couple of things you should do before you start crafting your presentation. Before we start down the path of building slides, we need to touch on the difference between presentation slides and documents.

The biggest problem with most slide decks I see is a result of creators trying to merge presentation slides and a document with all the supporting details. This results in a “slideument” that does a poor job at both.

Slides + Document  = Slideument

Don’t create a slideument monster.

A much better solution is to create a separate handout your audience can take with them after your presentation. This is where all the facts, figures and other supplemental details should go for anyone who wants to dig deeper.

Providing a take-home sheet means you can use slides to convey your message more effectively and efficiently with visuals and the power of emotions. (Presentation and persuasion is all about emotions. The only emotion that comes with text-laden slides is anger directed at you!)

If all you want to do is create a file of facts and figures, then cancel the meeting and send in a report.  – Seth Godin

Another benefit of handouts is that your audience can pay attention and engage with you instead of furiously trying to scribble down numbers, websites or other stats they want to remember.

What should be in the handout?

If the thought of a handout is new, you might be wondering what it should say. Here are a few things to consider moving off your slides and into a handout:

  • Biographical information skip the long-winded intros and put your bio in the handout
  • Contact info no need wasting precious presentation time on this
  • Call to action make it obvious what you are asking them to do
  • Citations, sources and other references give them the book citations, website links and other details that support your message
  • Additional resources for people who want to learn more

Curious to see how the handout supports the deck? Check out the slides here.

Don’t fall into the slideument trap. Move all the minutiae and “nice to have” details off of your slides and into a handout. The result will be a better presentation and a much happier audience!

Rethink your handouts. Consider interactive digital versions like this one.

Before or after?

There is a lively debate about whether it’s better to give the handout before or after your presentation. Some presenters worry that if their audience has a handout in advance, they will be too busy reading it to pay attention to them.

Personally, I believe that as long as you’ve done your homework and deliver a talk that deserves attention, you will get it.

Will you try a handout for your next presentation? Why or why not? If you’ve already made the switch how is it going? I’m always interested in hearing what is and isn’t working for others. Share your thoughts about it in the comments below.