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Tips for Using Effective Handouts in a Presentation

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  • 0:01 Handouts
  • 0:45 Benefits of Handouts
  • 3:03 Tips on Using Handouts
  • 5:44 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Lombardo
Audience members expect to be educated, informed or persuaded during a presentation. Handouts aid in the recall of the information presented. There are specific tips for using effective handouts.

Handouts

It is 11 p.m. at night, and you have just completed creating a key business presentation for your job. Before you head to bed, it is important to also prepare handouts for the meeting. Handouts are paper with relevant information dispersed to an audience at a lecture, presentation, convention, etc.

There are many benefits to preparing handouts for a business presentation. In this lesson, we will also cover tips for using effective handouts in a presentation. Before I was a professor, I spent over ten years in marketing for large companies that specialized in presentations. Here are some insider tips.

Benefits of Handouts

It is expected for a presentation to have a handout for audience members to reference later. There are numerous benefits to utilizing handouts for a business presentation.

1. Avoid information overload

Presenters should avoid dumping a huge amount of information on their audience. This will result in information overload, and the audience will feel overwhelmed. The point of a presentation is for the viewer to learn, appreciate and maintain the information.

Many presentations I have attended have been one huge information landfill. In one instance, the slide show contained 234 slides, and each one was bursting with information. Everyone in the room lost immediate interest in the presentation and started planning their escape. Handouts are a great solution to provide additional details to your audience without holding them hostage for ten hours straight.

2. Keep presentation on track

Handouts can also benefit the presenter by providing a road map for the presentation. Many presenters follow their own handout as a guide to stay on message and not digress. Outlines also give the audience an idea of the length of a presentation.

3. Remind audience of message

Audience members usually can't remember most of what a presenter has said an hour after the presentation has finished. Handouts provide instant reminders and a great source of information follow-up. Many times during the presentations that I attended, the presenter spoke too quickly or not loud enough, and I missed important information. It was reassuring to have the handouts to reference later in the day.

4. Allows follow-up

Audience members can later reach out to the presenter with any questions if contact information is on the handout. By providing a phone or email, you can be assured that their questions will be answered.

5. Retains attention

If handouts are provided, audience members can focus on the presentation material without having to worry about note taking. There is always one audience attendee who feels the need to write down every single thing the presenter has said during the lecture. There is no way that they can comprehend any of the information. Providing handouts allows the audience members to relax, focus and enjoy the presentation, knowing that they have follow-up notes to refer to later.

Tips on Using Handouts

Here are some excellent tips that are battle-tested in the business world.

1. Have handouts ready early

Nothing smacks of unprofessionalism more than a speaker making excuses for not having handouts. Even worse is when the handouts are dispersed mid-presentation, interrupting the flow of information.

2. Provide handout summary

I have attended many presentations where the speaker just hands out printouts of their PowerPoint lecture. Some printouts have weighed more than a small child. No one wants the entire lecture. You should provide a summary, outline or bullet points for the audience members to receive at the meeting.

3. Check your work

One time, I was listening to a presentation and I quickly looked down to refer to the handout. I realized that the notes were not corresponding to the lecture. The information was outdated and was probably reused from a previous presentation. This error caused me to lose interest in the lecture and also view the presenter as unprofessional and careless. This tip also speaks to checking for errors. The last thing you want is the title of your presentation to read 'Our Gormet Burger Story.'

4. Send reinforcements

Handouts are a fantastic way to further support your presentation. Many excellent lectures use handouts that contain helpful information for the viewer to use to gain additional insight. For example, one time, I attended a presentation on how the local library can be a resource for small businesses. The presenter's handouts had additional links and information for small business owners to find free services to aid in business growth.

5. Provide references

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