Using annotated PowerPoint slides as "handouts"
June 27, 2005
Depending on the situation, a handout — or "takeaway" — is a very good thing to distribute at the end of your talk. If you have a detailed handout of your material, you will not feel compelled to cram every slide full of reams of detail. The details after all are coming out of your mouth; the visuals support your talk. Presentations are dynamic, so perhaps you did not come to an important point in your presentation due to time constraints? If you included that point in your handout, you at least can refer to that before you close.
The best handout will be written as a separate document. But often we do not have time for that. In this case, if you annotated your slides in the notes view during the building of your presentation, you can simply go back and edit them, expanding when necessary, and clean them up for better reading. Printing out annotated slides may not be the best answer to the handout-creation dilemma, but this kind of handout will be much better than simply printing out a deck of bulletpoint-filled slides which are often impossible to decipher clean meaning from. And of course, if your slides were visuals only (usually the best use of PPT), they would have little meaning without either your narration or a clear written description and elaboration of your point.
Download sample_notes.pdf of an old presentation I did many years ago. You can see how I made a printable PDF in PowerPoint with the notes and slide both visible. If you have Acrobat Pro, you can get the file size way down. This file is a bit large since I made the PDF right within the OS.