Hand Out Effective Handouts!

Effectively designed handouts can be excellent tools to add value to your audience and support your presentation outcomes. And effectively designed PowerPoint slides can achieve similar results. But, these are very different tools and one document can’t work at all for both purposes.

PowerPoint screen prints don’t make effective handouts. When the PowerPoint gurus created the tool, they figured the screen print of 4 – 6 slides/page with space for notes on each would be a handy method for creating speaker notes. While the slide copy was too small to read, it didn’t matter because the speaker probably created the slides and knew what was on them. The notes part was for key points the speaker would emphasize on each slide. Very cool idea.

But, when busy presenters who were more lazy than creative or audience-centric saw this option, they figured … ‘no-brainer handout’. And Shazam … a new genre of ineffective handouts was born. The result – Death by PowerPoint handouts.

In my workshops and coaching engagements, I stress that well-planned and designed slides accomplish one set of goals and well-planned and designed handouts/leave-behinds accomplish another set of goals … and they’re very different.

How many times have we suffered through an 8 – 10 page screen print ‘handout’ that we can’t read that could have been converted into an 2 – 3 page 12-point type outline with the same amount of information instead? A waste of paper and ink. I warn clients that the screen print approach often tells the audience that the speaker was too lazy to create an effective handout, didn’t know how or didn’t care. Not a good image for any speaker to project.

And haven’t we seen the reverse lack of logic – turning a detailed full sentence handout into slides with the same ‘duhhh’ image cast by the presenter?

So, hand out effective audience-centric handouts – it’s worth the extra time and effort.


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