In general, I am against giving audience members handouts during or before a presentation. Why? Because I want the audience listening carefully to me the speaker, not ignoring me while reading ahead. Your audience can read a lot faster than you can talk.
However, there is a system that many speakers, including world-renowned gurus like Anthony Robbins use. These speakers give people booklets that have lots of blanks, sentence fragments, and spaces for writing. They are workbooks, not simply data filled handouts.
The difference is that with a workbook an audience member is not tempted to read ahead because it doesn't make sense. There are too many holes, blanks and other items missing. The speaker remains in control of the audience, even though there is the distraction of the workbook in front.
If you are going to use a workbook, however, several factors must be present.
Your audience must be highly motivated to write stuff down, because writing is work. So if you just paid $795 of your own money to attend an Anthony Robbins conference, you are most likely highly motivated (at least for that weekend!). However, if you are listening to a sales pitch from a prospective vendor, you are unlikely to be motivated enough to write things down, just because the presenting vendor asks you to do so.
The speaker must be perceived as either a guru who has special knowledge or be in a position of authority over the audience. If you are the president of your own company and you ask new employees to write things down in their orientation manual, they are likely to do so too.
Your audience must have pens and they have to have enough light to write!
So keep the "workbook handout" as an option, but make sure you meet the above criteria; otherwise your audience will toss it away and find it annoying that you asked them to become engaged at that level.
Be highly skeptical of all speech training gurus, myself included.
Constantly look for ways to add spice to your presentation.
Ask your friends who they like to hear speak and why.
If you have a list of favorite writers, then develop a list of favorite speakers. Study them, analyze them, listen to their audios, and watch them on video.
Develop your own critical framework for judging speakers.
Take good notes when other people speak and borrow the techniques you like.
Timing, gesturing, interacting with audiences, varying vocal tones, and capturing an audience’s attention are all useful and relevant lessons to learn by watching great stand-up comedians perform (and these skills are not limited solely to comedy).
Communicating your Message to the Media
If you are working with a bunch of colleagues, encourage each person to toss out ideas.
If anyone shoots down an idea, tell him or her to stifle it. The brainstorming process needs to be free.
Make sure you have a least one page full of possible message points. A message point can be anything you think is positive or important or interesting to say about a subject.
After you have all of your message points written or typed, spread them out and try to look at them all together.
Do not try to save time during this process. Let it all hang out.
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