What’s wrong with a presentation hand-out?

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 presentation is not a hand-out.

Presenting “hand-out ready” slides is a disaster

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 presenting such slides makes just about everyone think “This could have been emailed”.

Plus, we read faster than we can speak. So email your slides to be read instead to win that argument on time alone.

You see a presentation is a chance 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. We worry that we’ll forget our important points so we write them down: on the slide!

A very good solution is to pop that info into the Notes Area in PowerPoint, and to use Presenter View so you can see those notes while you present.  

presentation blog illustration - Your presentation is not a hand-out

Use those notes as client ready information. (Don’t write things like “imagine your audience naked” – a well known trick to relax nervous presenters. It’s not our idea, but it’s out there!)

These notes can be hidden from immediate view on the notes page (in PowerPoint) for you to glance at while speaking. Freeing up both your slide space and your audience’s concentration.

Afterwards, these notes can also be shared with the audience in the form of a hand-out. Do you remember receiving party-bags as a kid? Well, you can provide the equivalent to your audience in the form of clear, structured notes for them to take away with them…but only once you’ve finished!

Let your audience know at the start that the notes will be coming 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 the Notes View, read this blog.