March 25, 2008

PowerPoint slides as handouts



Conference attendees frequently request PowerPoint slides as handouts. If your PowerPoint has so much text and data that it can be used as a handout, then you're doing something wrong.

Your PowerPoint is most effective when it's image-based with minimal text and enhances your presentation, as I've mentioned here, here and here. You can also learn more about effective PowerPoint at Dave Paradi's blog and at the BBP (Beyond Bullet Points) blog.

Instead, provide handouts that:

1. Summarize your talk into concise points

2. Illustrate data, charts or graphs that were too detailed for the screen

3. Give tools for your audience to use when they leave

Keep handouts to a minimum; once your seminar attendees see how much paper they've brought home from the conference, much of it will go right into the recycling bin.

There is no law that says your PowerPoint slides have to become a handout. Audiences request them because presenters tend not to give handouts at all, so something is better than nothing for a lot of people.

Make your handouts relevant, useful and concise, just like your presentation, and your audiences will thank -- and remember -- you.

What's your solution for handouts?


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14 comments. Please add yours! :

Tony said...

A better idea. Put the handouts online or make the outline in PDF. Then, point the listeners to the website where they can access the link to the information.
1. It drives traffic to the website
2. It saves paper and expenses
3. It alleviates administrative chores
4. It brings awareness to the other related information
5. It makes you look real cool

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Great idea, Tony! I've seen a few people starting to do this.

Rhett Laubach said...

Everyone gets a "branded" pen.
Everyone gets "branded" blank paper.

The "branded" is whatever - company name, company logo, blog URL, web site URL, etc.

Love Tony's idea of having relevant and related material on the blog and/or web site. I do this often by researching my own blog and making note of the actual dates or search phrases for the blog to make it easier for them to go find the info.

Thanks for the post Lisa. Looking forward to our chat tomorrow.

Debbie Harris said...

I create a wiki with all the links to sites, movies, etc. to which I refer in my presentation.

Then I create a "one-page wonder" handout to go with the presentation, which I distribute. It has the link to my wiki, my blog, etc. That's what I hand out. I refuse to waste the kind of paper PowerPoint handouts use!

Lisa Braithwaite said...

All brilliant responses. Good to know my blog readers aren't paper-wasters. :-)

Rhett, I'm old school in that I think people should just take old-fashioned notes if they want to remember stuff. Sounds like you are, too.

I do like the compromise of one sheet of paper with all the relevant links that Debbie mentions.

Nick R Thomas said...

Hi Lisa,

I don't use any slides - period - but after all my presentations, whatever the subject, I offer
one sheet of A4 folded to make four small pages. Two of these are occupied by my 'Twelve Tips for Terrified Speakers!' They also give the URL for my blog with its further public speaking tips. The other two pages advertise my speechwriting and coaching services and give a list of my presentations and what types of organisation they are suitable for, plus, of course, my contact details. Obviously it all looks a bit 'busy' but having all this information with the Speaking Tips on one sheet means it's like a very useful (if somewhat oversized) business card!

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Hey Nick, you just gave me a crazy idea. . .

If you go to the second page of this document, you can see instructions for how to make a tiny four-page booklet from one piece of paper:
http://www.travelite.org/resources/pocketpackinglist.pdf

I've used this format, laid out in Pagemaker, to make a booklet for every city I visit, containing all the information I need while I'm there.

I think this would make an awesome pocket handout for a presentation!

Hmmm. . .

Michael Cortes said...

Excellent Advice! From you, Lisa and your readers. I especially like pointing the attendees to your website.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thanks for stopping by, Michael! The Speak Schmeak readers are a clever bunch.

kentuckyliz said...

I hate powerpoint! Conferences have turned into Death By Power Point!!! Especially if they turn off/down the lights...yuck, adult naptime.

Only use PP if you have visually complex information to share. Use blackout to turn off the screen and refocus attention on you.

Lately, presenters have been collecting email list of anyone who wants the PP emailed to them. I like Tony's idea of driving people to your website or blog.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Great user name, kentuckyliz! Turning down the lights is the worst. The speaker completely disappears, especially when the screen is center stage and the speaker is off to the side. The speaker should take control of the situation and not let this happen.

Unfortunately, a lot of speakers at conferences are just inexperienced and let the organizers make all the decisions.

Craig Strachan said...

Thanks Lisa, what you can also do is to use the notes section of PowerPoint to provide more detail, instead of just a "printout of the slide deck".

Personally, I always create two sets of slides. What I show on the screen, and a seperate (and usually more detailed) deck to handout with notes.

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thanks for your comment, Craig. There are a lot of ways to make this work, as long as the speaker is actually giving something of value and not distracting from her own presentation!

Lisa Braithwaite said...

I happened to come across another tip regarding PowerPoint handouts by Mike Podolinsky on SpeakerNet News.

Here are some of the comments he received; I thought they would add to our discussion as well.

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Obviously too much fill-in-the-blank makes them feel like children. The reality is, PowerPoint puts people on 'screen saver' within 10 minutes. They need questions, interactivity with handouts, group activity or other techniques to knock them off 'screen saver' mode.
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I DO give them much of the information that is on the slides. Many times in the handouts, there is MORE information. BUT... different pictures and graphics. In other words, BOTH are interesting and yet could stand on their own.
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Yes... they always ask for the slides. (Not that they'd take the time to look through them.) HR and trainers want to take the slides and give our programmes, cutting us out 'cause THEY can do it as well or better. (right..)
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The slides for me are just place keepers for the handouts and only contain a phrase or two and a lot of visuals. This helps me stay on track. IF the projector blew up or the computer died, I could deliver the entire programme from the handouts. If they got burned up in a fire, I could deliver from the heart. The point is, both handout and slides are visual AIDS... not the programme.
----------------------

When they ask for the slides, I simply say, "I don't have the copyright to distribute all the pictures (true) and "It is my proprietary material." (also true... I don't delver other people's stuff.) "I am working on selling licenses for the use of my materials. If you are interested in a licensing, please let me know and I'll get you the information." (true... but I've been working on that for years and not had one yet. When one says YES... I'll wrap it up. This usually just stops the request.)

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