Master Your Message Blog

Should You Use Presentation Handouts?

What to do with handouts? Do I give them out before I speak, after … during?

Here’s the traditional handout. Three slides to a page – a place for notes on the right hand side.

The pros – an appropriate place to write notes – right next to the visual they relate to. People remember things they think about and write down. That’s good!

Cons – rustling papers, which can be distracting. People flip ahead. And after your presentation, maybe one percent ever look at them again. So you do all that work, kill a tree or two and it generally ends up in the round file.

More cons than pros.

If it’s just a simple print-out of your presentation screens, they’re usually hard to read. At the very least, you should develop a second version of visuals for print (it’s a different medium than the screen) but most speakers don’t.

Many professional speakers and trainers develop pages specifically to be used during the presentation, with blanks that they work with the audience to fill in. The purpose – to reinforce specific, important things they say on stage. Because we know that writing something down is a powerful way to help remember it.

And if that’s the purpose, who cares if they never open it again. It’s likely in their brain.

Handouts – I rarily use them. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. But take a minute to think about why you’re using them, if you are.

What do you do with handouts?

Comments for this Post

Leave a Comment