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Passion, People and Principles

Handouts and Slides

post # 354 — April 13, 2007 — a Client Relations post

For a long time, when I do a speech, seminar or consultation meeting, I have handed out many more pages of slides / handouts than I plan to cover.

The theory is that (a) if someone asks a question, I can say “Yes, l’ve got something on that, let’s look at page 26″ and (b) handing out more pages than I actually plan to cover gives people “takeaway” value – extra material that they can review after the meeting.

In recent years, I’ve noticed something interesting – this approach is becoming MORE effective. In the old days, when I handed out the paper copies to everyone, they rarely got used. With the best intentions in the world, people stuffed paper into their briefcase and never looked at it again. or they abandoned it so they don’t have to carry it home.

Many meeting organizers responded to that by handing out CDs of the handout material, but even that is now old-hat. What’s really working well is to post the slides and handout material on the web. Obvious, but incredibly effective.

I am now finding that people are REALLY following up and using the material, and apart from the “noble” cause of providing more value, it’s helping to introduce my work to new people as those who met / heard me forward the material on to their friends.

I use two approaches at the moment. My standard set of handouts is on my website and I place the customized ones in a private area (“landing page”) for each client. It might be interesting to note that I still hand out the paper copies. If there are none, and I just say “Go to the private landing page for more,” fewer people go, because tey don’t know what’s there and they don’t bother. However, if I hand out the paper and say “If you see anything here that interests you, you can find it on the landing page,” then the follow-up percentage is much higher.

I have two questions for you to react to, if you wish to join in:

(a) Who else has an interesting set of handouts available for download? Tom Peters posts his slides, but maybe we can make a list here, so that everyone who reads this blog can be made aware of other interesting resources out there. Any nominations?

(b) Has anyone evolved to different strategies on using and disseminating their slides / handouts? What are you doing?


Krishna De said:

David – one strategy I have just started to test is taking the audio recording from my event and then adding it to my slides making it available as an on-demand webinar.

With the increased number of events and conferences that are being made available as a podcast, I wanted to differentiate my offering to provide added value.

For my business, I am looking to build my mailing list of people who are interested in receiving my newsletter so that I have permission to market to them over time, so I do ask for an email address to opt in – of course they can unsubscribe at any time.

I do wonder though as I am not of yours or Tom Peters stature whose names alone will attract large audiences, how do we ensure that people do not start opting out of attending events and conferences if they know the materials will be available after the event on the web?

posted on April 13, 2007

Carl Singer said:

I like to distinguish between what my audience is holding in their hand while I’m presenting and what they will get to keep forever in their office files. The former facilitates the realtime communication, the latter is the hopefully valuable leave behind.

With a live audience I frequently have handout slides but may have subsets of additional slides, perhaps additional detail or background, that I don’t necessarily present that aren’t in the handouts — usually I offer to email complete sets of slides (as .pdf) to anyone who leaves me their business card. This is sort of like the “Congressional Record” — I can insert responses to questions, clarify and other things that came up during my presentation in my mail-out set.

In terms of handouts I may purposely omit slides that may have answers to questions that I’m about to ask, etc. — but will include those in my mail-out set. Conversely, I remove my (so-called?) humor slides, housekeeping slides, etc. from my mail-out set.

BTW — I usually send slide handouts as .pdf file so there are no issues with inability of some to read them due to software versioning issues and also so no one will “borrow” the licensed artwork that my graphics department may have used for these slides.

Also, to me some of this depends on the audience and the vehicle. (To digress.) For example, I’ve gone away from Net-meeting and similar over the network presentations. Although the virtual meeting facilities are very powerful, they don’t add much to presentations and when dealing with an outside group, you need a separate moderate to deal with technical issues. Do you really want your presentation introduced by 5 minutes of I can’t get hear you or the video is fuzzy? I found that when I was a listener, I didn’t like the inability to read ahead, look back, etc. having to watch only what the presenter was pointing at. So as a presenter I now prefer to send the slides ahead (again as .pdf) via email I then use ordinary telephone conferencing for the audio part. “OK, I’m now on page 5.”

posted on April 13, 2007

Ellen said:

That is a great idea. People these days are also following the trend. Since the trend is online, then it’s pretty much easy to convince people to read those handouts to go with the flow.

posted on April 17, 2007

Wally Bock said:

I’ve found the web to be an excellent place to put resources from a program.

A good example of a support site for one of my programs is for the program on knowledge retention in the face of a wave of retirements that I gave for Memphis Gas, Water and Light. It’s at


This is similar to most of my support sites, though content varies depending on the program and client needs. The only really different thing about this site is that there is no downloadable version of the handout because we handled that in other ways.

posted on April 17, 2007

Tony Rice said:

David, we’ve extended your idea on using handouts to stimulate follow-on activity in a way that seems to be working for us. At one of our recent events on European Consulting Industry Mergers and Acquisitions, we filmed the speakers and subsequently produced a DVD (soon to be streamed on our website) with talking heads synchronised to their powerpoints. This is adding value in four ways:

  • We now have global reach with our event
  • We’re getting leads from people we’ve never met
  • It’s used as a teaser to get seats at future events
  • We make money from selling the video!

Our conclusion is that with some forethought, it’s possible to recycle and reuse content and advice in a way that gives you a real marketing boost. It can be done at very low cost and you end up with great collateral for use in many ways to lure prospects in your direction.

posted on April 17, 2007

Barb said:

That’s a good idea. Making use of every resource available. Sometimes I also pity speakers whose handouts are not given importance by the audience. I think it’s only a waste of time and resources to keep on distributing handouts to audience.

posted on April 18, 2007

John said:

Thanks for sharing this idea. It will surely save time and money.

Not all people attending the presentation are ineterested.

It’s better if they are given a chance to read the handouts in the internet. This way, they can read it anytime they want.

posted on April 19, 2007

syed said:

Excellent for opening ideas & thoughts. It will be really lots of benefits,

But b4 any lecture or workshop its good to circulate your view point in advance it will involve the participants more & more

posted on August 16, 2007