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“I’ll send you the slides.”

The fairy tale about the double use of presentation slides as handouts goes something like this: Without any extra effort from your side, the audience can review what you said plus they are reminded of you when they look at the slides.

Which is exactly the problem: when they look at it. Which, of course, is mostly never.

Handouts are rarely fun. They are cumbersome to read and often plain impractical as a reference: Who wants to sift through 30 pages of loosely structured, badly designed info that would have easily fit on one page if written down concisely?

There might be more useful handouts than your slides, don’t you think?

Apart from that one page summary, here are some random ideas that have a better chance of being looked at:

Do you manufacture tools? Why don’t you leave a couple of them so your customers can try them at home – and be reminded of you when they do (which they’ll do if they are actually useful tools).

Do you provide customized services? Why don’t you close the laptop, analyze your customer’s struggles using paper and pen, sketch possible solutions and leave the sketch with the customer (but don’t forget to take a picture so you can write an appropriate proposal).

Are you a designer or artist? Why don’t you leave your customers something that’s a pure joy to look at, let’s say a poster. You can greatly increase the chance of them actually putting it on the wall when it contains useful knowledge, e.g. “Three ways to make your message more relatable” or “The history of app design” – you get the idea.

Are you a consultant? Everything you know can be found on the internet in one way or the other. However, actually finding it is difficult. Why don’t you just assemble a reference handbook for your clients that is so well written that they find what they are looking for faster than on the internet and can understand it more easily. They are not hiring you for the knowledge but for your skills in helping them make the knowledge work for them.

If you want to be memorable with your handouts, give your customers something they will enjoy looking at or using often. Sure, that’s extra effort. And no, it’s not guaranteed that this effort will pay off.

But: nothing creates more trust than providing real value.

PS: Whatever you choose to leave as a handout, don’t forget to place your contact info on it.

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Dr. Michael Gerharz

Dr. Michael Gerharz



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