Presentation and Leave-behind in one file; Issue #472 September 1, 2020

You need your presentation to also serve as a leave behind document

Increasingly our presentations also need to be available to people after the presentation. Either people who attended the presentation want to discuss it with others who were not there, or people who were not able to attend the presentation need to review what we shared. The temptation is to create a document that contains all the details and project it as the presentation. This is a mistake because it is information overload and overwhelms and confuses the audience in the presentation.

The advice to create a PowerPoint presentation to deliver in person and a Word document to provide afterwards is not reasonable. Trying to keep two files in sync and the additional time it takes is too much effort for most busy business professionals.

A solution that can work is to create a single PowerPoint file that is designed to serve both purposes. It has concise, clear slides that will be delivered in the live presentation and slides that contain additional detail for those looking at the file later. The slides with additional detail can also be accessed during the presentation to answer questions that are asked.

Three types of slides in the file

To create a single file that can serve as both the presentation and a detailed document, you should create three types of slides. Each type of slide should be in their own section in the PowerPoint file.

Presentation slides

These slides are the ones used in the presentation and are primarily visuals with clear message headlines. They are the ones you speak to and do not contain additional information.

Backup slides

These slides contain the additional detail behind some of the presentation slides. These slides may contain tables of numbers, additional explanations, or other details that expand on what was shown in the presentation slides.

Document-only slides

These slides are different versions of some of the presentation slides. They may contain additional data or explanations along with the visual that is on the presentation slide. These slides are only for the document version of the presentation. Any changes in the presentation slides that these slides are based on also needs to be reflected in these slides.

Creating and delivering the presentation

For the presentation you will deliver in person, add links to some of the presentation slides so that you can access the appropriate backup slide if you feel you need the additional detail to answer a question that may be asked. You can use the regular link to a slide or a Slide Zoom link. You are then ready to deliver your in-person presentation.

Creating the document version of the presentation

In the document-only section of slides, create an alternative title slide that will serve as the first slide in the document. This may have additional details and your contact information.

The document version of the presentation is created using a custom show in the PowerPoint file. I suggest you name it Document Version, Detailed Document, or something similar. This custom show starts with the alternative title slide, draws slides from all three sections as needed, and allows you to arrange the slides in any order you want. You can include a presentation slide on its own, a presentation slide with the detailed backup slide after it, or use one of the document-only slides instead of a presentation slide.

You can create this custom show before your in-person presentation. You can also create it afterwards if you may want to make changes to the slides or add content based on the discussions at the meeting. If you create the custom show in advance, make sure you update it if you change any content after you deliver the presentation.

I also suggest you add a rounded rectangle shape to the first slide in the file which explains that the document version can be viewed by viewing the custom show name. You can also add a link from the shape to the custom show so you can also let viewers know that they can just click on the shape (which looks like a button) to access the custom show. You can add this shape before you present and make it not visible using the Selection Pane.
The custom show can be printed or you can save the custom show as a PDF if you want to create a standalone file that just contains the detailed document.

Saving time and providing the best experience for all attendees

By structuring your slides as described above and using them to create both the in-person presentation and a detailed document for later reference, you save yourself a lot of time compared to creating two files. The information you provide is more consistent and it is easily viewed by those who attend the presentation either live or afterwards.


This video shows you an example of how this file would be created and used.

By Dave Paradi

Dave Paradi has over twenty-two years of experience delivering customized training workshops to help business professionals improve their presentations. He has written ten books and over 600 articles on the topic of effective presentations and his ideas have appeared in publications around the world. His focus is on helping corporate professionals visually communicate the messages in their data so they don't overwhelm and confuse executives. Dave is one of fewer than ten people in North America recognized by Microsoft with the Most Valuable Professional Award for his contributions to the Excel, PowerPoint, and Teams communities. His articles and videos on virtual presenting have been viewed over 4.8 million times and liked over 17,000 times on YouTube.