Should I use handouts in my presentation?

Friday, August 9th, 2013 0 comments

should i use handouts thumbnailShort answer: Occasionally, if circumstances demand it, and if you produce content created specifically for that purpose.

You absolutely should not print your slides to be used as handouts.

There are two fundamental reasons why you should not do this:

1 – Slides should not make sense without a presenter.

2 – If your audience has a copy of all your slides, they can read ahead and so will not need to listen to find out what happens next.

If your slides make sense on their own and can be printed off as handouts, they’re not effective slides. If your slides are effective and don’t make sense without the presenter, they won’t function as useful handouts.

More to the point, effective slides use animation. Animations cannot be reflected in static 2D prints, and animated slides most often just look a confusing mess when printed.

If you want to keep your audience engaged with your content and message, you need to keep them guessing. Tell them the full story before you get to the end, and why should they continue to listen? Distributing handouts, especially when they’re just printouts of the slide, can lead your audience to believe that they have all the necessary information in front of them, and so don’t need to listen to you.

Aside from all this, providing something for your audience to read when they should be listening to you is never a good idea. If you want to provide your audience with extra information they can read in their own time, distribute handouts after your presentation.

We can understand that sometimes, you want your audience to be able to take notes, or annotate diagrams, particularly in a learning environment. But for this, handout materials specially prepared for the occasion are far more useful.

Want more information? We go into much greater detail on handouts in this article.

In sum: Handouts can be useful in certain situations, but should be created specifically for that purpose; just printing out your slides won’t work.

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