Your Presentation: What Makes a Good Handout?

I'm getting ready to present two conference workshops in Boston. Because I'm a former teacher, I always have handouts. But some speakers aren't giving attendees handouts and choosing to post the handouts on their websites instead. While this decision saves money, it may disconnect the speaker from his or her audience. Fact is, attendees feel better when they are holding information in their hands. There are many advantages to providing handouts. It makes giving a presentation easier for you, the speaker, because you can always refer to your handouts. You don't have to worry about forgetting a point because it's cited in your handout. When attendees return home, they will remember your talk and you, thanks to handouts. Handouts may also contain information not covered in a presentation.

Handouts fall into three general categories, uncompleted handouts, where the attendee adds information, outlines, which are also called skeletal handouts, and worksheets. However, I have another category to add and it's publicity. I've developed a list of the grief resources I've written for conference book stores, bascially a publicity handout. Over the years, I've also developed a "must have" list for handouts. You may find this list helpful. 1. Use simple words and avoid jargon. 2. Make sure the handout "fits" your presentation. 3. Add visuals, photos, clip art, or symbols, to every handout. 4. Copyright the handout in your name. 5. Add your phone number, email address, and website address, if you have one. 6. Color-code handouts so attendees may find them easily.

Your handouts represent your presentation and they represent you. Good handouts "speak" for you long after your presentation is over.