The “presentation hand-out” is destroying slide design!

If you’ve put together your slides with lots of information on them because you need to hand them out before, during, or after your presentation: well stop. Your slides are not a presentation hand-out.

Greanted, you know you’re target audience is going to ask for these slides. And without your in person narration: how will have all the information they need? So you feel you have to add that info on the slide. Well still stop. Let’s explain more.

Presenting a “hand-out ready” slide is a disastrous thing to do

Unfortunately, presenting text-heavy or content-heavy slides is one of the hardest things on earth for audiences to actually sit through. They can read, so reading out loud to them like they are 4 years old can come across as patronising, and of course, pointless. Presenting text based slides makes just about everyone think “This could have been emailed”.

Plus, you may well be aware, we read faster than we can speak. So another vote for “email your slides to be read instead” to add to the tally to win the argument on that one.

A presentation hand-out allows you to engage with your audience

For this to happen you need to speak to and connect with them. Voice, intonation and body language come into their own here. Your presentation is important too and should provide guidance and clarification. It’s not a substitute for you, your words and your interaction with those listening.

The challenge is that speakers too often use their slides as a crutch. They (we) all worry that we’ll forget our important points so we write them down: on the slide! There’s another way:

A good solution is to pop that text heavy content into the Notes Area in PowerPoint, and to use the “Presenter View” option so you can see those notes while you present.  

presentation hand-out

You can access Presenter View by clicking into Set Up Show in the Slideshow toolbar. If it doesn’t automatically then switch to Presenter View when you go into Slideshow mode, then you simply need to right click on the screen. The right click menu gives you the option to turn Presenter View on. MIcrosoft can be like this – sometimes it feels like you have to tell it things twice. Othertimes it’s doing something you never ask. Ah but it keeps us entertained and on our toes!

Write your notes well: these need to be client ready content. (And certainly NOT things like “imagine your audience naked”! It’s a well known trick to relax nervous presenters. It’s not our idea, but it’s out there! But don’t write your actual speech and don’t include speaking advice type notes).

These notes should be what is needed to explain the slide without you present. Whilst these notes are hidden from immediate view on the notes page (in PowerPoint) you can glance at them while speaking. No more fear of forgetting. And double win: it frees up both your slide space and your audience’s concentration.

Share these notes as a hand-out

Afterwards, these notes can also be shared with the audience in the form of a hand-out. Give them clear, structured notes in the form of this presentation hand-out for them to take away with them… ideally only once you’ve finished! Or again, you’ll fall foul of the whole “this could have been emailed” trap.

Likewise, let your audience know at the start that the notes will be coming at the end and they’ll be less tempted to scribble their own notes while you speak. Less scribbing = better concentration.

Don’t have that bad habit of using your slides themselves as your hand-outs: present visual slides and then PDF the Notes View so your presentation + notes becomes a powerful hand out. The extra effort will be well worth in terms of audience attention and understanding.

Bonus tip: Style and format the Notes Area to look professional. There is a Notes Master area in PowerPoint that will do half the work for you if properly set up. Trust us, it’s well worth it spending an extra hour getting your notes pages looking great. You’ll look great too.

For more information on using presentation hand-out via the Notes View, read this blog.