Slideuments and how to avoid them. (Using Presentation Slides and Handouts separately.)

by Oliver Adria on 24/04/2010

There’s a new trend that has emerged in the last few years – the slideument. This is a mixed breed of slide and document; you can see it as slides with lots of text or a text document with half-sentences, but it serves neither very well. It’s so common now, that we’ve come to expect slideuments at a regular business presentation and get a printout of the slides after (or worse, before!) the presentation. And the slideuments – full of half-sentences – already have so much text, that most presenters just read off of them. The question is: Why do we need a presenter if there is so much text on the slides already and the audience gets a printout anyway? And if the audience gets the printout before the presentation, then they’ll most likely ignore parts of the presentation since they already have a lot of the material in their hands.

The solution? Use both 1) a text-based handout and 2) visual-aids-based slides. Both have different purposes for presentations. The slides should be visual aids, they should be visually stimulating, (sometimes emotional,) non-texty and they should support (and not replace) what you say. People don’t necessarily need to understand the whole talk if they only get a printout of your slides. That’s not what the slides are for, that’s where the handout comes in.

Presentation Handouts are preferably one page long (up to maximum three) and summarize the key points of your talk (in normal human-readable sentences). They should have information for people that want more information after the presentation (e.g. a list of further readings or references) and they should also contain your contact information (so they can contact you in case they have any questions or want more information). I’ve made an example of a presentation handout and also noted some ideas on how to create presentation handouts.

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