In my last post on presentation handouts I suggested that it’s best to distribute your handout before your presentation. The comments to that post identified three situations when it makes sense to distribute your handout after the presentation. As not everyone wades through comments I’ve decided to highlight them in this post:

1. Surprise

Mike Slater

Personally I don’t like giving out handouts in presentations as there is usually some element of “surprise”. I “reveal” points during the presentation and if the audience had copies of the slides (or even a more detailed handout) in advance the effect is ruined.

Adam Lawrence

We use surprise as one of our main tools in presentations. With a handout – goodbye surprise and the attention boost it guarantees. Put it like this – would you want the full plot and punchline written on the back of your DVD cover?

2. Brainstorming and discussion

Cathy Moore

I use visual slides to set up a dilemma and then have participants brainstorm how to solve the dilemma. Then I reveal slides that show some solutions, and we discuss how those fit in with the solutions we brainstormed. If participants had the handout at the beginning, the brainstorming about dilemmas would be empty, because all the participants would have to do is look at the next few slides and see the suggested answers.

3. Co-creation of presentation

Adam Lawrence

We try to keep our presentations highly flexible, and to follow up on ideas that come from the dialogue with the audience. Any preprepared handout is dated the moment we start.

Instead, we sit down later to produce a handout that reflects the true content of the session, and the folks ideally get it some days afterwards. The advantages:

  1. It doesn’t get lost in the pile of mostly useless paperwork from that conference day or whatever;
  2. It serves to refresh the memory of the session just at the moment it would otherwise be forgotten (ie a few days later); and
  3. As said, it reflects the true content, not the planned content.

Thank you, Cathy, Mike and Adam for your contribution.

Phil Waknell has written an excellent blog post detailing his reasons for distributing handouts after a presentation (it has also many other excellent tips).

Have you got another good reason for distributing handouts after the presentation? Add it in the comments of this post.

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