Leveraging Handouts to Improve the Effectiveness of Your Presentations Part 1

by | Nov 8, 2010 | Marketing & Selling

leveraging handouts
NOTE: When I finished writing this post, I realized I had so much information, I needed to break it into two. So today, I’ll post the first half and tomorrow the second.

There may be occasions when your presentation is so content rich that you’ll want to provide the audience with handouts to help them either consume the information while you are speaking, or to remember what you’ve said after the presentations is over.

But handouts can be tricky. Do them incorrectly, and they can upstage you or even sabotage your presentation. Here are some guidelines to help you leverage your handout so that they support your presentation and even improve the effectiveness of your speech.

Cardinal Rule: Handouts are supplements … not substitutes!
Your handout should not be a copy of your speech. It should not be a replica of what you are going to be saying. If that’s the case, why are you there?

Handouts can be course outlines of the topics you want to cover, they can even be images of your PowerPoint slides, but they should never … I repeat, never … be verbatim what you will be saying.

When should you hand out your handout?
If your handout is comprehensive supplemental material, such as articles, brochures, etc., hand it (them) out after the presentation is over. This is always your best option. Handouts provided before a presentation can distract your audience from you, so if you can avoid distributing your handout before your presentation, do so.

Of course, there will be times that your audience will actually benefit from having a handout in front of them. If this is the case, go ahead and hand them out before the presentation is over.

However, only distribute what they will need next. If you have several sheets that will be referred to at different times, don’t provide them as a bundle. Hand them out just before they are needed. That will prevent the curious from peeking ahead. When doing this, it is a good idea to color-code your handouts to make them easier to refer to: “Now look at the yellow handout …”

Be sure to stop by tomorrow, when I’ll post the second half of the article covering how many handouts to have and what they should look like.

What is your biggest challenge around giving presentations?
Join the conversation on Facebook or ask your question in the reply box below! If you’re feeling really creative, you can send me a voice mail or post a video with your question. I’ll post answers to your questions on the Public Speaking Super Powers blog. And, if you like, I’ll give you credit to! For more information on how to ask your public speaking questions, watch this video.

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