To handout or not to handout …

We’ll preface by saying it’s your choice. If you feel strongly about giving handouts at every presentation that’s up to you. What we’d like to do is share handout tricks that work and engage the audience, and let you know the times and circumstances when it’s not a good idea. Here are a few things to mull over:

1.Never distribute handouts prior to the presentation.

Yes, that’s a never. You’ve worked so hard on your presentation, it looks fantastic, you’ve practiced and practiced, you’re ready. Why on earth would you give your audience something to look at other than you, and your awesome presentation? It’s hard enough to engage a crowd, don’t hand them a distraction or an opportunity for the impatient to skip ahead and prejudge what you’re about to present!

2. You are the presentation guide

This is your moment to communicate exactly how and what you want your audience to hear, feel and do. You can’t get that from a handout before, during or after a presentation. No handout will convey that experience, the presentation is key to your message.

3. Don’t forward the presentation on after you’ve given it.

See point number 2! You are the guide. The presentation should only make sense with you presenting.

4. Do leave a one-page recap after the presentation

This is the type of handout we love – an infographic. A one-page recap of all the salient points in the presentation. It can serve as a reminder and reinforce the points you’ve made. It’s not saturated in detail, so it allows for a request for elaboration and a follow up. Don’t forget to include your contact details.

5. Have a second ‘handout’ presentation for absentees

We know we’ve just doubled your workload here, but a more in-depth document is a great idea for people who couldn’t attend the presentation. Here you can add the depth and explanation that you went into in person.

6. Consider a video

Rather than sending around a pdf or PowerPoint deck, a video is an engaging, innovative way to get your message across in the way your intended, when you’re not there. The video should be short and just hold the essential information. You could also include yourself presenting – but that’s up to you. Apps like Microsoft , Zoom, Prezi all enable you to do this easily.

Think about the handout as secondary to your presentation, not as the presentation itself. It’s a reminder for those who were present and an overview for absentees. It’s a useful tool to reconnect with audiences after the presentation. You can ask them to share contact details to send on the handout information and help you nurture connections going forward.