How to write a Presentation Handout: 5 Effective Ideas

by Oliver Adria on 21/04/2009

Presentation Handout IdeasIn a previous post I wrote on why handouts are important and how they can relieve you of writing down everything on your slides. In this post, I want to get into a bit more detail on what elements a handout should contain. Of course every person will have their own preferences and do let me know if you have your own ideas on how to create presentation handouts. Here are the things that I like to keep in mind when creating a presentation handout:

  1. Keep it to one page
    Yes, keeping everything to one page might be a very difficult thing to achieve, especially if you have that much to say. But think of it from the audience’s point of view: Are they more likely to read it if it’s five pages or one? Of course, it is also acceptable to write a two- or three page handout, but I find the most effective one to be one page long.
  2. Keep your presentation storyline
    Don’t confuse the reader by telling a different story in the presentation handout. Keep the storyline that you had used in the presentation and stick to it. Don’t introduce new elements.
  3. Use images if you can
    This is not 100% necessary, but using images that you had used in the presentation might make it easier for people people to associate and remember your presentation when they read the handout a few days, a few weeks or even a few months later.
  4. Add some “further reading”
    It’s impossible to convey a huge amount of information into one handout or even one presentation. So for the people who want to read more, add a “further reading” section into your presentation handout.
  5. Add Contact Details
    Don’t forget to add your contact details at the end of the handout. After a week or two people will probably not remember who gave the presentation anymore and they won’t be able to associate the handout with your business card. So add your most important contact details at the end of the post (i.e. your name, webpage and email… and Twitter or some other web2.0 thing if you want)

You can download a sample presentation handout here (this is the one for my presentation that I had created for the slideshare contest in the summer of 2008). I created it quite a while ago and it was one of my first handouts, so it’s still improvable, but it does contain all of the 5 elements above and I think it’s quite decent.

To download a handy presentation checklist, go to Download the Presentation Checklist.

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