Truthfully, I throw every handout they give me--what's the point? If you were listening, and the presenter was interesting, it's just a waste of paper...
was the comment left to my blog post about designing presentation slides a couple days ago. I am not so sure I agree with the comment, but conference presentation handouts are something worth taking a hard look at given the ease with which information can be placed online and readily updated.
I am pretty sure I once created a handout for a day-long workshop that must have run better than 40 pages. Supporting the northern Minnesota paper-mills, ya know. One of the primary purposes of a good presentation or workshop is to stir sufficient interest that the participants are motivated to pursue additional information about the topic after the workshop is over. So my handouts usually contained:
- a rough summary of the content of the presentation
- "activity" sheets for participants to complete during the session
- articles and other information for people to read after the conference
- a bibliography of additional resources
But I was too often disheartened to see lots of handouts winding up in the trash - right outside the session room door. Obviously these people did not know that all my writing as been approved by the FDA as a non-addictive sleep aid and those handouts might well have come in handy if they ever suffered a bout of insomnia.
Let me say that simple printouts of the PPT slides are the worst! Either the PPT is too wordy or the handouts are worthless. Mary, who also left a comment, suggests typing the narrative in the notes field and then printing both slides and notes for handouts. I guess that's better than just the slides, but it still wouldn't be my choice.
Here is my plan:
A move from everything in print, to a single page where a many-paged handout can be found, to a single page with activities and a link to a wiki that contains links to many individual sources that can be easily updated. These sources can be read online or individually printed and used as relevant. Am I green or what? (And I acknowledge that many presenters already do some version of this, I'm sure. And my conversion from handouts to wiki-based resources is just beginning.)
At the last two workshops where I presented, I estimate that 50-75% of participants had laptops and were connecting wirelessly. How long before we can dispense with paper completely and perhaps just print web/wiki links in the conference program?
As a conference attendee, do you still value paper handouts? What content makes them valuable? Or should they be regarded as a modern day buggy-whip?
Is there no small degree of irony in creating paper handouts for sessions about Web 2.0?
Is there a lesson to be learned here about "handouts" in K-12 classrooms?