In a working environment where soft copies are in, and hard copies are no longer fashionable, handouts still continue to have their relevance.
But what can a handout achieve that a presentation can’t?
The answer is – detail, review, recap, and recall.
In this article, DeckRobot speaks about the importance of handouts and reasons why you should use them during your presentations.
They reinforce your points and act as a reminder
Too much information is, as you know, a no-no for your slides. You can ease your worry about not getting every relevant detail into your presentation – by including it in the handout.
During your presentation, everyone will be focusing on what you say and show, they won’t be able to read your slides. While the overall impact will no doubt be memorable – some essentials may escape even the most attentive listener. That’s when handouts become handy.
Handouts are useful as they help recall the information that you have presented. Your audience can take away the necessary vital information from your presentation with them, review it and even refer to it back later.
What to include in a handout
Handouts allow for the detailed breakdown of points from your presentation.
What you presented via bullet-points, charts and graphics were in a condensed form. You can expand on these in the handout, adding in references, case studies, relevant articles, and any other information (including contact information) that you think will be an invaluable supplement to your core presentation.
Make it easy to read and understand by choosing a good strong layout, a readable font, and appropriate colors (don’t print white text on a black background for example).
However, remember not to get carried away, though! Bombarding your client with too much information is never a good idea, be it during or after the presentation.
What’s the best time to pass out the handouts
Speaking of before and after there are no strict rules. However, you may choose to distribute your handout before you present, if you want your audience to be able to take notes on the handout as you go through your slides. But the benefit of allowing note-taking on the handouts is usually outweighed by the loss of your audience's attention. If your handout is just a one-sheeter, more a checklist or a summary of what you are about to present, no harm can be done circulating it before.
So, in most cases, you're better off holding the handout until you're finished presenting. That removes the temptation for some people to read the handout while you're speaking, which is a distraction and thus counter-productive. If you're using a handout, tell your listeners, so they will know they don’t need to take copious notes and thus can focus their attention completely on your speech.
Handouts can help you a lot throughout your presentation. However, not all audiences accept handouts, although they help your audience be engaged to what you have to say. You should generally use handouts during information-heavy presentations.
We feel an ideal strategy would be to tell your audience at the beginning of your presentation that you have prepared handouts for them to take-away once it’s over, thereby getting the best of both worlds.