Mar 19, 2009

Pick of the Week: Why do you need Handouts?

Most people who present do so without giving any handouts to the audience. Some who do just take print outs of the slides they present. Are handouts just a copy paste of your slides?

I don't think so. Handouts are an effective medium through which you can share the key points of your
presentation. Prepare it as a one or two page word doc and hand it over after your presentation is over.

Do not distribute handouts at the start. The
audience will not pay attention during the presentation because they already know what you are going to present.

Printout of your slides is not a good handout because your presentation is incomplete without your
speech. Your presentation is not a standalone thing. But your handout it. Your handout is a summary of what you have just finished presenting. If your audience knows you will give a handout, then instead of writing down stuff, they will actually focus more on what you are saying.

In the last ten days I have seen two posts on handouts.

Oliver Adria of ReThink Presentations writes on how a good handout will de-clutter your presentation. You
need not stuff it with text. You will not miss out on any crucial point because even if you forget to speak about it, it'll be still there in the handout.

While making a handout, you will be forced to summarize all that you want to say in 1 or 2 pages. This will
bring more clarity of thought and will surely help you deliver a better presentation.

M.J. Plebon of PresentingYourPoint in his detailed post writes on why you need to prepare a handout.

1. People have short memories and will not remember all that you have spoken about

2. Not every decision maker might be present when you speak

3. Key decision makers might not stay back for your entire presentation

In all these cases having a handout will make your job easier.
Be it a sales presentation or a business review, leaving your audience with a handout will go a long way in achieving the objective of your presentation.

Do you distribute handouts after you present? If yes, how do you go about making them? If no, would you like to share why not?


  1. Hi Poza,

    Fantastic website. I got to know only last week and have completed a read of all the articles...very useful...Being in consulting and dealing in presentations day in and day out...i could find a lot of valuable tips and ideas in this site...

    Keep up the good word...All the guys in my team now know about the website...slowly you will find them also spreading the message...

    Regards - Ramasubramaniam...

  2. Thanks Ram

    I would like you guys to contribute to the learning by posing questions & sharing your real life presentation experiences.