Should I Make My Slides Available?

Over the years, I’ve gotten a version of this question multiple times:

How do you feel about making slides available to participants? Should I make my slides available to the audience? Advantages? How does availability affect what you put on slides?

The ‘experts’ are on both sides of the fence with this question also. There is no ‘pat’ answer to the question because it does depend on the type of presentation you are giving, to whom you are giving it, and what you’d like to achieve. Let me elaborate.

should i make my slides availableIn general, if you create your slides strategically, aka:

  1. After you’ve drafted your presentation;
  2. After you’ve identified what your takeaway is (what you want someone to do, think, or feel after your presentation);
  3. After you’ve created your presentation following the professional, basic rules for creating presentations (30pt font, no bullets, no lists, no large bodies of text, use of images and the rule of thirds); then…..
  4. Most of your slides should be a waste of paper for people.

You will have the answer to what you should do.  Let me explain.

Typically the first question I have out of the gate is are you teaching / training, educating, motivating, presenting something new, or presenting research. While not everything should have slides, even education/training/teaching/research presentation should have elements of the below which applies to all presentations.

Side note:  Why all the talk about slides?? Well, those people who ask for slides are those who were subjected to a lot of information on individual slides, or from your presentation overall, and were so engrossed that they didn’t catch the important things they wanted, or you went too fast with all the info on the slide.  People don’t like missing out.  This is why I am first discussing creating the right versions of slides.

Slides should be created AFTER you’ve drafted your presentation

Think about this for a second.  Most people create the slides first as a matter of working through their speech, and then using those slides as ‘notes’.  I say flip this approach, BUT, in a way that supports how you work.  If you are a creative and visual person, use something like the below: speech storyboarding paper.  (You can download the pdf version of the full sheet by clicking on the image). It’s still best to write out your whole presentation as an initial brain dump to get organized.

I can hear many of you saying: “I don’t practice my speech, let alone write it out,  because I want to be real and authentic on stage and want to feed off the energy of the audience.”  If you want to be he next Les Brown, Maya Angelou, (which you won’t because you, are you. and they, are who they are/were.), you have to write out in some fashion, and practice in some fashion, because in order to be natural and real and authentic, you have to work through the weeds first and lay the path. Every pro, no matter what field, does this.

Second (& hugely important)- feeding off of the energy of the audience. This can be a truly invigorating thing. But think about it this way… ALL those people in the audience paid, in some way, shape or form, to hear you and to ‘feed off of your energy’. Don’t forget that. All kinds of things could be affecting their ‘groupal energy’ :-): previous bad speaker, weather, traffic, you name it. It’s up to you to be armed to get them where you can then feed off of their energy.

Your slides should be minimal at best, even when teaching.  You don’t want to risk sending people into a neural tailspin when you are the solution to their problem or you are the one who can show then where the yellow brick road is hiding.

speakers storyboard paperConclusion

Your goal is to think ‘marketablity’, an extension of should I make my slides available:

  • How do I make my presentation more memorable, and marketable?
  • How do I make them pay attention to me long enough, and with enough emotion, that they will remember me after, and when they need the services I offer?

Just offering slides is a tremendous loss of both short term and long term marketability. And if everything you speak about is on those slides, you could be putting things at risk – especially if you offer them as is.  Meaning – you don’t necessarily want trademark, copyright, and contact information cluttering up every projector screen, but you do want that info on every handout page everyone gets – along with links to all of your media, ways to hire you, where to see you next, links to articles you’ve written, etc..

Take the opportunity of offering slides in some fashion as a way for your audience to stay connected.  People like to walk away with free stuff, and get something for nothing. If you don’t let them have that, then you will not be remembered, or found if they do remember you. Have everything they need in that ‘packet’ to remember you, and contact you in the future.

Therefore, the answer to ‘should i make my slides available’ when appropriate, are the following options in most instance:

  1. creating a ‘notes pages’ version of the screens, for them to collect notes during the presentation.  On that print, which your planner should have copied and printed out for you (part of their cost, not yours, and their responsibility to hand out, not yours), will have the copyright and contact info on every page, and can include a final page with extra information and links.
  2. creating a special workbook / ebook with your presentation material, copyright and other marks, as well as links to articles, contact information, resources for them if you offered them. During your presentation you can say if they want to sit back and enjoy the presentation, they can download the special workbook or slidedeck by txt’g right then to join your list, going to a that links to a special place on your website or landing page, asking them to tweet a request to you @XXXX with hashtag #eventhashtag, or liking your facebook page and commenting there with the #hashtag
  3. or both (or come up with your own creative option).

The goal is to give people something that will drive an additional neural connection, allows you another chance to connect (as well as gain more info about that contact), and potentially get you out in front of more people.

Once your event is over, you can maximize your content by:

  1. including as an incentive to sign up for your list, placed in the middle or end of a post on your blog.
  2. You can create an image, with a quote and use on pinterest, instagram, facebook, etc. with a link to a landing page for people to enter their email to get your content.
  3. You can do a facebook ad for your slidedeck.
  4. You can post your slidedeck or a version of it / with your recorded voice on slideshare.
  5. You can create a facebook live announcing that you will be presenting shortly, and offer a link for the special slide deck.
  6. You can do a youtube clip of the presentation with a link to your landing page for email in exchange for content. So many possibilities, so little time.

So when you ask: ‘should I make my slides available’, when you can wonder all the things you can do with that content and intellectual property of yours (while gaining valuable SEO exposure).

Think about it and ask your questions below, or share your tips / advice for this question.



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