Presentation Tips: Handouts

CC Licensed Flickr photo by this lyre lark
CC Licensed Flickr photo by this lyre lark

For the past few years, I’ve been using a Moleskine notebook to keep track of notes in meetings and professional development presentations.  I find having less paper to shuffle around and keeping everything in one place works very well for me.  As an Instructional Facilitator, I have been making a conscious effort to study the presentations of others so I may improve my own skills.  Being an IF (and a new district employee) has also given me the opportunity to see many presenters in action.  For about a year and a half, I’ve been putting presentation suggestions in the back few pages of my notebook.  Some of my colleagues have noticed this, and offered their own suggestions to be written down in the book.  What you see here is the compilation of professional development presentation suggestions from 2008-2009.  My colleagues and I have also worked to include these ideas in the presentations that we give.  These suggestions will be a series of posts on topics such as preparation, materials (handouts, food, tech, music, etc.), use of time, presentation slides, and others.  I will be using the tag “Presentation Tips.”

Handouts: Professional development can involve a lot of paper.  These are some of the ideas we suggest to help streamline the process and to be sure your handouts are user friendly.

  • Do you have a handout you want people to grab as they walk in? Put them somewhere obvious and in plain site.
  • You can use handouts to indicate where you would like your audience to sit.  Place handouts or goodies in only the front rows, group areas, or other places where you would like people to situate themselves.
  • Have an agenda and try to honor it. Make it available to everyone through a handout, email, etc.  It is also a good idea to have this posted somewhere in the room.
  • Make copies on different colors of paper for easy reference. (Please refer to the blue copy, green packet, etc.)
  • Include easy to find page numbers on multi-page handouts.  Even if these are hand written on the originals and then copied, they make packets much more user friendly.
  • Handouts printed in color ink can grab the attention of your audience and show them you cared enough to make that extra effort.
  • Avoid PowerPoint format handouts. Rather, give people information that can be used and/or referenced in your presentation. Good slides are “little statements that would be a waste of paper.”Jane Kise
  • Be sure that everything on your handouts can be easily read. I see people run into the “legibility” issue most often with data (charts, graphs, etc.)

Looking to go Paperless? If your audience has access to computers during the presentation, consider the following options:

  • Hand out a collection of related resources on CDs, DVDs, or flash drives.  This method allows you to easily provide additional resources and can help you differentiate for your audience.  Be sure that your materials are both Windows and Mac friendly.
  • Upload handouts to GoogleDocs or similar web applications where your audience can easily access them.  If you choose this route, but sure your audience is comfortable using the web application you have chosen.
  • Include a reference list of web resources using a social bookmarking site such as Diigo or Delicious.  This can be especially helpful if you or your audience will be using various websites during your presentation.  You can also use this method to provide additional resources or websites/research cited in the presentation.  This Diigo resource list is an example from one of my tech classes.
  • Comic Life and similar graphic design programs make easy to follow how-to guides for technology presentations.  See an example here.

If you have comments or questions on any of the tips provided or if you would like to add your own tips, please feel free to comment.  Thank you!


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