Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The ABC's of Public Speaking - H is for Hand-Outs

H is for Hand-Outs

When delivering a business presentation there is a lot of discussion as to if it is recommended to provide handouts of your PowerPoint slides in advance to the audience. People often like to get copies of your slide deck to take notes and to have them for future reference. If you are speaking at a conference it is the common practice for the organizers to place your presentation in the binder that is provided to all participants.

While there is not a "right" answer, my recommendation is that you do not provide hand-outs that are the exact replica of your slides in advance.

There two reason for this perspective:

1). Your slides themselves are NOT your presentation. There should not be enough detail in your PowerPoint that it alone provides the informative parts of your discussion. Your PowerPoint is a tool for you to remember what stories you wish to tell, not a piece of reference material for the audience. I will touch on this in more detail when we get to "P is for PowerPoint" in this series of blog posts.

2). If people have copies of your presentation they will undoubtedly scan ahead while you are delivering your speech, and thus not be actively engaged in what you are talking about in the moment. It is human nature to want to know what is coming next, and if you have provided them with the map of your presentation you have eliminated any control you should possess in guiding your audience along the path of the information exchange.

Much like watching a movie when you have already read the book, having the slides for a speech in advance will take away the joy of discovery for the person listening. Storytelling has forever been the major form of human educational communications, and your audience is more apt to learn from you if they are not preconditioned to know every subject you will be covering.

However, people like hand-outs, and providing them with a place to take notes (that also has your name and contact information printed on it for future reference!) is an important step to ensure that they remember you and your pontifications.

A one page "key points" sheet, or a list of important websites, blog, books, and other points of information on the topic area is a great way to provide hand-outs without using your PowerPoint.

Always make sure that you have your name and contact information printed on the materials that you provide to the audience. You want to make it easy for them to reach out to you following your presentation.

Some business professionals fear providing contact information, as they imagine they will be over-run with people wanting to email or call them for trivial reasons. But few people are going to bother you unless they want to reach you to learn more about your company's products and services, provide you with a referral, praise your presentation, or maybe ask you to speak at another event. It is in your best interest to make it easy for them to find you.

If people are interested in having a copy of your PowerPoint, and you are willing to provide it to them, you can always email them the electronic version after the event. Additionally you can have printed versions available after the conclusion of your remarks.

It is a good idea to get something into the hands of your audience, as it is a direct connection point to you, but it does not need to be your slide deck.

Have A Great Day.



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Anonymous said...

AMEN to point number one!
Create your presentation THEN make the PowerPoint highlights to go with it. What if you have an electrical malfunction? Then you are dead in the water. I just endured two days of death by PowerPoint. Thanks for the post.