Handouts or takeaways can enhance the core content of a presentation or speech and serve as sources of information for reference and recall. Here are a few guidelines to consider for distributing handouts.
- As a general guideline, do not distribute handouts prior to a presentation if the audience is likely to become absorbed in the handouts and ignore your verbal presentation. For instance, if you are training college students on interviewing skills, consider distributing your handouts after the seminar.
- When the audience is likely to be more serious or needs to study charts or illustrations to participate meaningfully, do distribute your handouts before commencing your presentation. Your audience can follow along your verbal presentation and make notes on the handouts.
Handouts for Pre-reading
Quite often, handouts may also serve as pre-reading material to help the audience study the content beforehand and prepare for your presentation. Suppose that you will lead a presentation for approval of a new steering wheel design. If you distribute a PowerPoint file with illustrations and key features of your new design, the electronics, dashboard, manufacturing and assembly teams can review your design ahead of time. This facilitates brainstorming and informed decision-making during the design approval presentation.
Survey your Audience
Survey the audience prior to your presentation. Depending on the nature of your audience and the purpose of your interaction, distribute handouts when appropriate.