How To Prepare Slides And Handouts When You’re Short Of Time

Frankie Kemp

10 October 2023

You’ve got a presentation tomorrow. It’s 11.30pm and you’ve not prepared your slides.

The easiest thing to do is to copy and paste your data heavy tables on to PowerPoint.

Usually, you do as I advise: a picture and a headline but you’ve been told this audience is going to have to take the slides away for information.

Currently, slide one has a picture of a robot, slide two has an illustration of a rabbit sitting on someone’s head.  They’re going to feel short-changed if you give them this lot.

So you lift text from the company brochure on to the PowerPoint. It’s 30 lines deep but it’s better than nothing.

You’ve killed two birds with one stone: you’ve quickly put together your visuals and they’ve doubled up as a handout.

The problem is, if you’ve too much on those slides, the audience will either:

a) listen to you or

b) read the slides.

Either those visuals will be waste of time or you’ll be redundant.  One at the cost of another is no win.

The other problem is that you may be inclined to read straight off the slides. You know how boring that is when you watch others do it, so why fall into that trap?

How do you balance a shortage of time with the need to give both information after the event and captivating slides during it?

You don’t want your slides to be densely packed with information. Neither do you want to prepare two sets of slides or one set and an information pack.

Here are three ways to smash together an effective slide presentation when you’re short of time…

1. Keep the pictures and headlines on there. Grab that website text or the pdf, do that copy and paste then stick it in the notes section of the PowerPoint.  You can then print this out so the slide pack doubles as handout.

competition rounds

Note how colours embolden key information

2. With tables, do what Peng, one of my clients did when short of time.  She copied a pre-existing table and simply highlighted the relevant text in a brighter colour.  Where does your eye travel to here?

statistics table

Coloured rings emphasise key data

3. When you have statistics, you can copy information and either embolden data or make it stand out with a graphic.  Takes a couple of minutes and is much speedier than starting from scratch:

4. Another client, Robert, a Chemical Engineer, was passed a dense pack of slides by a colleague.  After filtering out most of them, he then turned nearly all the text white, save for the headlines.

Headlines, with body text whited out


Turning the PowerPoints into handouts was easy:  he simply changed the colour of the text to black before sending them:

Version used for handouts with text revealed


Using these tips, you’ll be able to use your slides to engage during a presentation, without overwhelming your audience with too much visual information.

In addition, if they need to take more comprehensive information away with them, you can easily do that, without spending hours on handouts.

Your Action:

  1. Find pictures easily using these free resources:
  1. Copy and paste to your heart’s content for the handouts and stick them in the comments section. No time to edit? Underline, or embolden key words to make them stand out – in the slides themselves or in the notes.

Do you need help with your presentation skills? Contact me today to set up a call!

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