Good Handouts

Too many presenters treat handouts like an afterthought or even forget them altogether, justifying their action with "They will just get trashed anyway." That kind of thinking becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When handouts are not designed well, they do get trashed. By contrast, quality handouts are used and ensure that your presentation is remembered favorably.

Why Good Handouts Stay out of the Trash

People tend to forget almost 90% of everything that is said to them in 24 hours. Handouts help people to recall and apply the details that tend to ebb away with time. The scenario plays out like this. "The speaker said xxx could be done but I forgot how." To the rescue, a laminated job aid passed out as handout.

The mind processes new information at different speeds depending on the medium.

Some ask why bother to speak at all when people can read so much faster? The answer is that presenters convey much more than words when they speak and more readily connect emotionally with an audience than via writing. The spoken word makes a connection and tells a story. Text supports and expands ideas with details and applications. Graphics (charts, tables, diagrams, maps) complement both your presentations and handouts because they format information for rapid assimilation.

Why poor handouts get tossed.

They fail to:

Basic principles of good handout design

Handout formats fall into two categories. Pick the type that best supports your objective.

Design features to make handouts useful

Examples of handouts to accompany different types of presentations.

Handouts enable presenters to

Handouts enable the audience to

Hand out the handouts as the audience arrives to

If you catch yourself saying "I don't want to distribute my handout in advance of my presentation because the audience will be reading ahead of what I am saying," go back to the drawing board. Something is wrong with the design of your presentation or handouts. A good handout makes the audience want to pay attention to the speaker.

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