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Should You Distribute Handouts on Your Next Presentation?

After each sales pitch, speakers can only hope their audience had taken something from their presentation—to have engaged the audience enough for the speaker to be remembered.

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Distributing handouts is a great way to remind your audience of your topic’s key points. This is especially helpful if you have more information that you would like to relay, but can’t include in the presentation because of time constraint or layout/design reasons

These are especially useful for presentations with tons of details because it is impossible for your audience to take in that much information.

What does it contain?

While your PowerPoint is customized to contain the key points of your presentation, your handout provides an extensive explanation of the details bulleted in your deck and your contact information.


Usually just a page or two—enough to thumb through, the handout’s content shouldn’t only cover the topics discussed in your presentation. You can also include related information, such as case studies and other print collateral, that supports and further explains your pitch.

Should you distribute them?

Presentations shouldn’t exhaust the audience, instead, this is where you deliver your core message in an engaging way.


Adding the element of handouts strengthens your call-to-action, as these provide the resources they need to get in touch when they need to discuss purchasing decisions.

The advantages of handouts, however, come with downsides, including the possibility of creating a disconnect between you and the audience—serving as a distraction because the audience will be reading rather than listening.

In the end, it is up to you to whether to use print collateral during your presentation or not. After all, handouts only reinforce what you’ve already mentioned in your presentation. If you’re confident in your PowerPoint and you think it’s effective on its own, then there’s no need for them.

People can only take in so much before they experience information overload and by the time they do, they will be unable to retain half of what you’ve said.

Handing out print collateral for the first time? No need to worry. Apart from being PowerPoint experts, we also provide print services that attend to these specific needs.

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“Understanding Information Overload.” infoengineering. n.d.

Lampton, Bill. “Using Handouts to Reinforce Your Training Presentations.” Business Know-How. March 26, 2015.

How Printed Handouts Benefit Your Business Presentation

While most presenters focus on making effective PowerPoint presentations, handouts are also essential tools for clearly understanding topics.

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Handouts aren’t suited for all situations like inspirational talks, for example. Business presentations, however, require more complex information and data. In this case, provide your audience with hard copies that summarize your message.

What’s Inside?

Handouts should reflect your overall business presentation, but don’t print out all your slides. Include only what is relevant—plan what your handouts should contain and only include keywords which drive your main points.

Explaining everything in one sitting might lose your audience’s interest because they’re burdened with too much information.

At the same time, presentation trainer Olivia Mitchell encourages the use of white space in handouts to let audience members write down any important questions or ideas they have while you deliver.

Instead of separating you from them, it actually helps you engage them more.

How Is It Important?

Handouts are great for business presentations that demand detailed explanations, especially when you’re maximizing your time while presenting your ideas.

While this isn’t a prerequisite when you do a presentation, it’s one way of making it more memorable for your audience.

Though practice and preparation prevent you from forgetting some of your key points, it’s still significant to give time for making your handout to avoid leaving your audience hanging.

When Should You Give Handouts?

Give them out before, during, or after your presentation. Each time period has its pros and cons.

Providing handouts beforehand might make them think they don’t need to listen to your presentation since they already have the information. They can also be distracted reading your handouts instead of paying attention to your speech.

But if you do choose to distribute before the presentation, let your handouts serve as a guide, not a distraction.

On the other hand, giving handouts during the presentation lets you interact with your audience and makes them feel involved. People can write down their ideas and notes on these interactive handouts, making them feel more invested in what you have to say.

If you choose to distribute handouts after the presentation, advise your audience before you begin. Inform them that you’ll provide a summary, so they won’t be distracted by listing down complex data or facts.

It’s not an issue at what point in your presentation you distribute your handouts. What’s important is that you engage and capture your audience’s attention.

Knowing your handouts’ benefits makes your presentation more memorable. They can be kept for future reference since they’re printed materials, helping your audiences remember your company after your presentation.

Giving your audience something to review lets them recall your presentation’s key message. SlideGenius can help you craft printed materials containing stand-out texts and visuals.

Take a look at our portfolio, or contact us. All it takes is fifteen minutes.

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13 Best Practice Tips for Effective Presentation Handouts.” Speaking about Presenting. Accessed June 5, 2015.
A Quick Guide to Presentation Handouts.” SlideGenius PowerPoint Design & Presentation Experts. 2014. Accessed June 5, 2015.
Presentation Tips: 5 Quick Steps to Audience Engagement.” SlideGenius, Inc. December 16, 2014. Accessed June 5, 2015.
Using Handouts.” Total Communication. Accessed June 5, 2015.

A Quick Guide to Presentation Handouts

If you’re dealing with a topic that involves a dense amount of information, it’s ridiculous to assume that the audience will try to memorize every detail. As the presenter, it’s your job to do most of the heavy lifting. You need to craft your presentation carefully, taking time to simplify and illustrate complex details. It’s your job to give them an experience that stands out and is easy to remember.

This isn’t always an easy task, especially if you’re expected to share a lot of facts, data, and complicated concepts. Still, there’s one way you can make sure everyone can easily review the key points of your presentation. You can turn your core message into a concrete takeaway by creating presentation handouts.

Why are presentation handouts important?

Presentation handouts aren’t always ideal for every scenario. However, if yours is similar to what we’ve just described, handouts can be beneficial for both you and your audience.

For starters, you can make use of handouts to include additional details about the points in your presentation. Since presentations are meant to be simple and concise, you would have to cut a lot of the data out from your slides. Your handouts can then serve a similar function to end notes or an appendix page.

With presentation handouts, your audience is also more likely to listen to what you’re saying. Most of the time, a lot of people worry about taking down notes and missing out on something important. If you give them something they can review in the future, they will be more likely to sit back and just absorb your entire delivery.

After the presentation, your handouts can also serve as a great reference material for your audience. If the data or facts you provide are particularly important and informative, they can refer to you in their own reports and presentations.

One of the challenges to delivering presentations is making sure your audience remembers all the key details. By creating presentation handouts, you can provide them with something they can easily access and look over.

Useful tips for creating presentation handouts

All that said, there are a few things you should keep in mind when making handouts for your presentation. It’s not enough that you distribute a printed version of your slides. As we constantly point out in this blog, your PowerPoint deck is a visuals aid, specifically created to make your presentation more engaging and dynamic. Your presentation handouts need to be more detailed and exhaustive than that.

Here are our quick tips for the best presentation handouts:

Keep it structured and well-organized

Aside from containing all the helpful information you had to cut out of your presentation, your handouts should also be properly structured and organized. Like you would with a presentation, organize everything into the main sections of your discussion. From there, you can expound on the details you had to condense. You can also add graphs and other illustrations you used to represent data.

Handle extra information with care

While you should provide the audience with additional info, keep in mind that too much can be overwhelming. Your job is to discuss a topic in an accessible way. Loading everyone with every piece of data you have will hurt this objective. Knowing your subject matter well, you can easily strike the balance between ‘too little’ and ‘too much’. Your presentation handouts should delve a bit deeper, but it shouldn’t feel like a cornucopia of information.

Don’t forget to cite references

It’s important to cite the references you used in your presentation. This shows the audience that you used credible and reliable sources. They can also check them out easily should they want more information. It will also be helpful if you can provide them with additional resources that might be helpful. Leave them with a list of websites, blogs, articles, and books that can provide them with additional insight on your discussion.

It might take an extra step, but creating presentation handouts can bring plenty of benefits. Give your audience something they can read and review long after your presentation. For a presentation that’s heavy with data and complex concepts, handouts can increase the impact you leave.


Featured Image: Joel Penner via Flickr

The Why and How of Presentation Handouts

As much as you want your listeners to retain what you’ve said, chances are, their own busy schedules might make their minds wander and forget about your key points. But there’s something that your audience can literally take home after your presentation.

If you haven’t been giving out handouts, maybe it’s time to consider the idea. Presentation handouts are an interesting addition to the presentation experience, with plenty of benefits for you and your audience members.

Why You Should Use Them

Make use of handouts to include additional information about the points in your presentation. Since you have to be concise with your slides, your handouts can act as a “footnotes” section and expound on the details you’ve glossed over.

At the same time, knowing when to hand them out is essential in tapping into their full potential. It ultimately depends on the presenter. Handing out your white paper at different points in your presentation each has their advantages. But generally, giving these out once you’ve delivered all your points is preferable, to avoid distracting them from your pitch.

Audience members are also more likely to relax and listen to your presentation because they no longer have to worry about taking notes and catching every word that you say. Lastly, handouts are a great reference material for your audience members. If your presentation was particularly informative, they can refer to your handouts in their research or reports.

How to Make Handouts

After a while, most of your audience won’t remember a single thing about your presentation. Handouts are a great way to refresh their memories. Make sure that your handout contains all the necessary information from your presentation. Organize your points into sections and expound on the details you had to condense. You can also add graphs and other illustrations you used to represent data.

Cite the references you used for your presentation, so your audience can check them out if they want to know more. You should also provide them with additional resources. Leave them with a list of books, articles, and websites that can provide them with more insight on your subject matter. It’s also important that you provide space in your handouts for annotations.

Don’t be tempted to give out printed versions of your PowerPoint slides. As we’ve mentioned earlier, PowerPoint slides only highlight your main points. They’re visual aids that help the presentation become more dynamic. Slide printouts won’t make much sense when your audience members refer back to them after some time.

The Takeaway

With the information and sensory overload people experience daily, your presentation might easily get lost in their memory. Give them a take away from your presentation by handing out handouts at the end of your pitch.

If you’ve given a memorable spiel, it will help them keep track of your key points and contact you later on.



Why Use Handouts?Total Communicator. Accessed July 21, 2014.


Featured Image: Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr