Handout that is not a slide printout; Issue #184 May 5, 2009

PowerPoint Tip: Handout that is not a slide printout

Recently I delivered a one hour concurrent session at a conference. Obviously I can’t deliver the same amount of information in one hour that I can in my customized full-day workshops for organizations. When I do a shorter presentation, I also consider whether I need to take a different approach to my handout.

Normally in my half-day or full-day workshops, my handout is a printout of most of my slides so that the audience doesn’t have to write down every point I am making and has the space to take notes on how they will implement the ideas I am sharing. Many people take these notes and keep them beside their desk for quick reference whenever creating a presentation because they have enough detail to act as a memory jogger about what I discussed.

With a one hour presentation, I take a different approach. I don’t view it as a training session, but more of an overview of ideas with a few details. It is not a scenario where people will be taking detailed implementation notes, but they will rather be taking notes of ideas they want to explore further in their own context. With a larger group in these shorter presentations, a substantial handout would also end up wasting a lot of paper since the organizer would likely end up printing more copies than the number of attendees.

In the conference presentation I did two weeks ago, I supplied a two page handout. On the first page, I summarized the five steps of the KWICK method that I would be discussing in the presentation. I left space for the participants to take notes on what they got from each section in the presentation. On the second page, I gave the audience resources for more information that they could pursue as it applied to them: web sites, books and videos. Whenever possible, I also include a visual of the book cover or web site home page so they know what to be looking for when going to these resources.

In your next presentation, determine what type of handout you should be using. Many financial presentations actually benefit from having a more detailed handout with all the analysis in it. The slides only convey the conclusions from the analysis, and are not cluttered with tables and charts. The presenter focuses on what the analysis and numbers mean to the audience without confusing them with an overload of numbers. If the audience wants to explore an area further, the presenter can turn off the slides temporarily and delve into the detailed handout with the audience.

The default handout when using PowerPoint has been a printout of the slides. I hope with the examples and ideas in today’s tip, you can now consider the best handout approach for each presentation.