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Welcome to

The Standup Trainer Newsletter

September 2006

Brought to you by Ellen Dowling, PhD ("The Standup Trainer") and the fine folks of Dowling & Associates, Inc.



This newsletter is guaranteed certifiably useful as well as amusing. (If you are not completely satisfied, there are unsubscribe instructions at the end. But we're betting you'll change your mind by the time you get there.)

Welcome to all new and continuing subscribers!

In this issue:

Dr. Standup Answers Your Most
Pressing Presentation Questions
(New feature!)

You are all invited to submit any presentation-skills-related question to Dr. Standup. (You are invited to submit any unrelated questions as well, but no promises on how useful the answers will be!)

You are also invited to respond to any question with answers of your own. (The Doctor is magnanimous and will publish alternative responses.)

And now, this month's question . . .

Dear Dr. Standup:

I am puzzled about how to incorporate handouts into my presentation. Do I give them out before the session, at the beginning, during, at the end, or after? Which is best?


Hoping to Get a Big Hand(out)

Dear "Hoping":

Boy, you sure ask a lot of questions! (Just kidding!)

It all depends on what the purpose of your handout is:

1. Is it to advertise your business and give your session participants an easy way to contact you after the session?

Then it might not matter when you distribute them, as long as they're in people's hands before they leave the session. You could even race your attendees to the door and personally hand each one a handout as you thank them profusely for coming.

(This technique will also prevent the depression that can set in when you realize that many of the handouts, which you distributed at the beginning of the session, are still sitting on the chairs of the fleeing audience members.)

2. Is it to provide your participants with the instructions for an interactive activity during your presentation?

If so, then you would need to gauge when the time would be right to distribute the handout. If you give it out too early, the attendees will be reading it ahead of time, which could spoil the spontaneity of the exercise. Best to hand it out just in time for the activity.

Of course, you could also try the old school "blue book" technique and put, in large letters on the front of your handout, the words DO NOT TURN THE PAGE UNTIL TOLD TO DO SO! (I would advise this only if striking fear into the hearts of your audience members is one of your goals. People have been known to let out a primal scream when they see these words.)

3. Is it to provide paper upon which your attendees can take notes?

If this is your purpose, then you have at least three options here:

a. You can simply distribute blank sheets of paper at the start of the session and tell them to note-take away (the old college technique).

b. You can provide the old reliable PowerPoint handout at the start, with four slides per page and white lines next to the slides for notes. This is probably the easiest handout to create, as PowerPoint does it all for you. It's also, in my humble opinion, the most boring and least effective method.

c. You can provide a handout that follows your presentation but is interactive and interesting. This takes the most time and energy to create, but it will most likely increase retention as attendees who are "forced" to take specific notes will probably remember much more than those who just doodle in the margins of the PowerPoint slides.

Julius E. Eitington, in his book, The Winning Trainer (Butterworth-Heinemann, 4th edition, 2001), offers this interesting interactive handout idea. On a sheet of paper, list two columns, one headed "POINT MADE IN TALK" and the other headed "MY RELEVANT PERSONAL EXPERIENCE." Then number at least five rows down with space for the participants to write their responses.

Instructor Deborah Knott has posted a very useful checklist for handout design on the Web, theorizing that "The principles of writing web documents work well for handouts of all kinds."

Lastly, there is a fascinating discussion on the uses and abuses of handouts (assuming one can actually find handouts "fascinating" in general) on PowerPoint contrarian Edward Tufte's web page, "Ask E.T." Here are some responses (the first two from Tufte):

Overhead projectors and PowerPoint tend to leave no traces; instead give people paper, which they can read, take away, show others, make copies, and come back to you in a month and say "Didn't you say this last month? It's right here in your handout." The resolution of paper (being read by people in the audience) must be ten times the resolution of talk talk talk or reading aloud from bullet lists projected up on the wall. A paper record tells your audience that you are serious, responsible, exact, credible.

. . . the best handouts are given out in advance of meeting. Why turn our students into stenographers recording our dictation? Instead let's try something new in class: thinking.

Concerning handouts, nearly every book on public speaking that I've read the past 42 years warns about giving them out ahead of time: "The audience will read the handouts and not pay attention to you." I say, so what? Audiences are always distracted and if they are going to read anything, I would much rather they be reading my handout than a copy of USA Today. Besides, I have to gain and regain their attention anyway. And, deep down, what this old advice says to me as a member of an audience is: "Look, because you are too immature to pay attention to the speaker, you may not have the handouts until we leave." Distribute handouts first, fill them with valuable information and a bibliography, use the handouts actively during presenting by telling them to look at page 8, and don't be afraid of losing listeners because they have a handout in front of them. If the training or presentation is ABOUT the listeners, they'll pay attention. -- Michael Buschmohle (email), August 31, 2002

Do you have any other ideas about how to use handouts effectively? Send them to me and I'll publish them in next month's newsletter.

Doctor Standup

Announcing a New Workshop:

The Presenter as Facilitator: How to Achieve Consensus and Promote Productivity with Groups

In this highly interactive and energetic four-hour workshop, participants will practice seven different ways to facilitate productive brainstorming sessions. They will also role-play (on videotape with playback and critique) strategies for dealing with "difficult" brainstormers: dominators, clams, naysayers, snipers, and super-agreeables.

Who should attend: Anyone who has been asked to facilitate a group problem-solving session.

Comments from recent participants at a Sandia National Laboratories Black Belt Summit Conference, in response to the question, "What was the best part of the course?"

Interactive role-playing, especially after lunch!
Engagement of everyone.
Very involved-keeps you going!
The activities were great!
Wanted more!
Great workshop, time flew by, I wanted more.

For more information about how this workshop can be tailored for your organization, contact Ellen at 505-307-1700 (edowling@standuptrainer.com).

That's it for this month! If you enjoyed this newsletter please do pass it on to your friends. (Or send them to www.standuptrainer.com to get their own subscription. Why should YOU have to do everything for them?)

If you have a suggestion for something we could do to make this newsletter even MORE useful as well as amusing, please contact us:

Dowling & Associates, Inc.
Ellen Dowling, President
(505) 307-1700