How many of your slides serve double duty? Let’s look at an example of what I mean…
Slides like that serve double duty because they’re both:
- Part of your slideshow during your talk
- Used for reference afterwards, because people won’t remember all the details
My question is, if people won’t remember what a slide says, why show it during your presentation at all? That needlessly burdens your audience, who don’t know what you expect them to remember (or what details you might give them a copy of).
By all means, include details like that in a handout for people to refer to later. But don’t overwhelm your audience with details during your talk.
Many presenters give their audience a copy of their slides to look at afterwards – in effect using their deck as their handout. But unless you’re careful, using your slide deck as your handout has 2 big problems:
- If your handout contains some “appendix” slides (like the slide above), it’s almost certain you’ll show them during your talk as well.
- Handouts need to be relatively wordy, because you’re not there to explain the content (as you are during your talk), which means your slides will be wordy too.
So how can you make a handout that avoids those 2 issues? Luckily, if you put most of your content into your slide notes instead of on your slides, you can do it in just a few clicks!
- Hide “appendix” slides
- Move wordy content to your slide notes
- Refer to your slide notes during your talk
- Use your slide notes as your handout
Hide “appendix” slidesScroll to Contents ↑
For your slideshow, you can avoid the problem of showing “appendix” slides (like the contact details slide, above) just by hiding them. That way, PowerPoint simply skips those slides during your talk. (You can still include them in your handout, which shortly you’ll see how to make. So your audience will literally walk away with all the key details they need.)
To hide the current slide (in Normal view), click the Slide Show tab and then click Hide Slide. To remind you that the slide’s hidden, PowerPoint fades the slide’s thumbnail (which is the small image to the left of the slide) and crosses out the slide number next to the thumbnail:
Move wordy content to your slide notesScroll to Contents ↑
Along with experts like Nancy Duarte, Garr Reynolds and Jerry Weissman, I recommend you put (at most) about 15 words on each slide. That way, your audience spends little time reading while you’re talking, and can focus on you.
But don’t worry: You can use cut and paste to move the extra words to your slide notes. So you’ll still have them to refer to during your talk, as discussed in the next section. And, as you’ll see later in this post, they’ll be in your handout for your audience too.
To show you how cutting and pasting text to the slide notes can work, here’s a makeover of a 2nd sample slide – beforehand, the slide had lots of text (in 3 bullet points) and no notes:
Refer to your slide notes during your talkScroll to Contents ↑
Having cut words from your slides, you might fear you’ll forget what to say. But there’s no need. Here are 2 ways you can still keep all your words in sight during your talk:
- When you present, if you use a projector or a 2nd screen (like a wall-mounted TV), you can use Presenter View to see your slides plus your notes (on your PC) while your audience sees just your slides.
- Or, print your slide notes beforehand, to refer to while you speak:
Use your slide notes as your handoutScroll to Contents ↑
A great way to create a handout is to click File > Save As and save your PowerPoint deck as a PDF file, which starts out like this:
But instead of just saving your slides, it’s much better to save your slide notes. To do that, click the Options button that appears under the Save as type box when you choose to save as a PDF. Then in the Options dialog box, choose to save your Notes pages and Include hidden slides:
By doing that, you can keep your slides succinct, so your audience looks to you to explain them. Yet when people read your handout afterwards, the slide notes explain what’s on your slides, just like you did verbally during your live talk.
There are 2 tips to keep in mind with this technique:
- To include your hidden “appendix” slides in the PDF, be sure to tick the option to Include hidden slides.
- Copy any hyperlinks from your slides to your slide notes. That way, the links are clickable in your PDF handout (whereas hyperlinks on the slide thumbnails in your handout aren’t).
Your turnScroll to Contents ↑
Let me know, do those four tips sound doable and helpful? If not, what’s getting in the way? Sharing your thoughts makes this content more useful for everyone… Thanks!
Also check out
- Quiz: How many words should you put on your slide, and why?
- Keep detailed handouts for the end
- Slide makeover: 5 steps to replace boring bullets with audience awe
- Show cues before content (5 intriguing ways to animate your slides)
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