- Reduces information overload – detail you would usually pack into your presentation
- Adds interactivity
- Encourages note-taking
- Supports pre-event preparation so your audience is primed
- Suggests post-event homework to people focused on your topic or message
- Key facts are easy to remember
- It’s a takeaway that includes your contact details
- QR codes can link to your website or in-depth videos, or a newsletter subscription
Quick Tips: what is the best structure and content for handouts
- Do NOT hand out a copy of the slides.
- The look should reflect your key stories and message.
- Easy to keep up to date (see Format)
- Content must expand upon what you said, not go off at a tangent
- For better note-taking, include prompts and “fill-in-the-word”.
- Suggest actions they can take.
- Market your other programs, events and lectures
- Accept sponsors related to your topic, to cover costs
Your handouts should be able to stand alone. They might be given to people who missed your presentation, expanding your reach!
Quick Tips: what is the best format for handouts
- Any format that YOU can update easily
- Most people automatically open Word and start typing. Word nudges you to write a lot of words.
- PowerPoint is a better format for handouts. You can import your initial content, and it nudges you towards fewer words.
- Don’t forget online (for AFTER the event). QR codes can link to a download or an online tool.
- Multiple formats are often more efficient for creating handouts – as long as your favourite software tool can save as a PDF.
So what software do YOU use?
I use InDesign with Adobe Acrobat Pro, because it creates amazing for PDFs with quizzes, built in forms and interactivity. It’s suitable for professional events, where speakers keep to the same basic content.
I have a whole set of add-ins for PowerPoint that allows me to build both printed and online activities and quizzes. Some are printable, and most keep their interactivity when saved to PDF.
Quick Tips for handing out your visual aids
- Very long events – more than an hour
- Technical topics
- You want your audience to research or get up to speed
- The listeners must refer to a data table or complex graphic
- It is a webinar and the audience NEEDS to print it out
- You have an activity that needs a worksheet
- You need the audience to use the guide for structured note-taking
When you distribute your handout at before the presentation, give your audience time to look through it. That way they won’t ignore your speech while they are leafing through.
- It has spoilers for elements of suspense or surprise
- It has answers to topics you want people to think about first
- It’s a distraction – people constantly rustling and turning pages
- The venue or speech isn’t suitable for note-taking
- Your handout is a copy of the slides – people will read ahead
- The content is long and wordy.
- The content mostly links to more detail
- Your handout is more of a giveaway or offer
Give your audience a heads up about what your handout does – and doesn’t – include. They will be able to focus better on your speech!
Sometimes your handout meets multiple criteria. Why not hand it out to break up your lecture?