57 Handouts

One of the most popular types of visual aid involves leaving the audience members with a paper-based “take-away. ” It can be a perfect way for your message to make a lasting impression. That is why so many sales professionals and marketing organizations produce “leave-behinds. ” They are designed to give the sales prospect something tangible to help remember the firm, the salesperson, and the message.

A handout is also a good idea when you present many details that you want the audience to remember. A handout will keep them focused on listening to you, along with the added benefit of allowing you a measure of control over how your presentation is remembered.

As always, you want to be in control of the entire speech and everything surrounding the situation. Therefore, you need to consider when to distribute any material you intend to pass out. This is a tactical decision that can greatly affect the impact of a speech. Typically it is best to either pass a handout BEFORE the speech begins or AFTER you have finished speaking. Otherwise, your handout becomes your competition for your audience’s attention.

If you do decide to use a handout in your speech, you need to consider the following:

  • Allow enough time to hand out items before your presentation, so the audience can flip through material and appease their curiosity before you begin speaking.
  • Make the handout interactive by leaving blanks for the audience to fill in while you speak.
  • Tell audience members what you want them to do with the handouts while you continue the speech.
  • Inform the audience early in the speech if you will provide a handout of the charts, tables, posters, or PowerPoint presentation used in your speech. This will allow them to anticipate the material so they can focus on listening.
  • Make the handouts unforgettable. A “leave-behind ” that is not deemed important can quickly become a “left-behind. ” Items left behind are thrown out by the sweeper, not read at leisure the next day.


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