The Power of Handouts

The Power of HandoutsThere are three things that handouts can do for you, your audience and your presentation:

  1. Make it easier for listeners to take notes and follow along
  2. Help members of your audience contact you later
  3. Provide additional, more in-depth information on your topic

So that your handouts actually accomplish these goals, follow these tips:

Leave space for notes
This may sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many handouts are text-rich and space poor. Increase the size of your font, use substantial spacing between lines and leave large blocks of white space between thought points so people can take notes.

Put your contact info on every page
Don’t think that just by putting your contact info on the first or last page is enough. Staples come out; people throw away parts of your handout they are not interested in; coffee is spilled. If you put your contact information in the header or footer of every page, you won’t have to worry that people will loose or not be able to find it.

Make every page of your handout count
Be sure to include valuable resources and information on every page. This will reduce the number of pages from your handout that get filed in the circular file. Make every page you hand out valuable, useful and precious.

Include an action guide
The last page of your handout should be a “tear off” action guide that clearly lists the actions people should take after hearing your presentation.

Alternatively, to make your speech more engaging, you can have them use this form to jot down the action steps they think up as they hear what you have to say. These are “light bulbs” that come on for them. At the beginning of your presentation, have your listeners tear that last page off and instruct them to write down their “light bulbs” when they have them. At the end of your presentation, invite people to share their light bulbs. This gets people engaged with what you have to say, and one person’s light bulb might inspire another’s.

A tip for when to hand out the handout
If your handout is an integral part of your presentation, you should hand it out at the begging. If you can hand each part out separately so that people don’t read ahead, this is even better.

However, if your handout is simply more detailed information that what you could cover during your stage time, hand it out at the end. That way people would be tempted to read it rather than listen to you.

About Carma

Carma Spence, author of Public Speaking Super Powers, is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years experience in marketing, public relations and science communication. She is a multi-dimensional entrepreneur, a certified life coach, science fiction writer and poet. She is able to see people's brilliance and help them bring their genius to light. The wind beneath her clients’ wings, Carma provides creative entrepreneurs with expert advice on branding and online presence, as well as the emotional support necessary to carve out their niche for success online. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
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