Many presenters miss a golden opportunity for meaningful learning by throwing together useless handouts at the last minute. Many of these handouts will end up gathering dust in a file cabinet or be thrown in the trash.
During your one-hour instruction session or conference presentation, you can really only begin to engage the audience with your content; meaningful learning requires time and needs reinforcement.
So instead of just printing out copies of your slides, try something different: create an “information kit” of learning resources for audience members who want to explore your presentation topic further.
What Is an Information Kit?
Listed in the Oxford English Dictionary is the following definition for kit:
“A set or outfit of tools, equipment, etc.; spec., a collection of parts sold for the buyer to assemble.”
Because your time is so limited (either in library instruction sessions or during conference presentations), it only makes sense to include materials for your audience to use and study later at their own pace. Give audience members a set of tools that they can use to review presentation content or to practice skills taught during the instruction.
For example, when I teach my presentation workshops, I send each participant home with a kit that includes additional resources (websites, references, etc.) and materials illustrating important concepts. I also try to include some “quick reference” materials that they can refer to while creating their own presentations.
What to Include in Your Information Kit
While the final layout and organization of your kit should be governed by the content of your presentation, here are a few suggestions:
- A summary of the content presented (this can be one page or it can be exhaustive – up to you)
- Include a list of works cited during your presentation.
- An annotated bibliography of recommended resources is always helpful.
- Include relevant checklists or tip sheets (e.g. for training purposes).
- Include full-size copies of any diagrams.
- Include copies of any spreadsheets needed by the audience.
- Freebies like stickers, memo pads, pens or pencils are always appreciated.
Your information kit is your chance to give your audience all of that juicy content that you just did not have time to cover during your actual presentation, so be sure to allow some time during preparation to compile the materials for your kits.
If you plan to include copyrighted material, be certain that you have secured the necessary permission from the copyright holder to reproduce the material. Be warned that “fair use” may or may not apply to your use of the material.
Alternatively, you can pay the royalties for use of the material through the Copyright Clearance Center. If neither of those options is available, provide a citation so that the audience can find the item on their own.
In some cases, the material will be available under a Creative Commons license (as the content on this website is) and you can reuse it as long as you follow the rules of the license. For example, the CC license for this site permits you to reuse content as long as you attribute it to me, and any derivative works you make that include my content must be available under the same conditions (known as the “share-alike” provision).
“Green” Information Kits
Creating information kits does require resources (paper, ink/toner, etc.). I recommend using recycled-content paper and printing on both sides of the page to save resources. You might also consider making PDFs of materials in your kit and distributing them via CD or via the web instead of on paper. Again, be sure you have the appropriate permissions before distributing anyone else’s content electronically.
So now you have some ideas about what to include in your information kits (a.k.a. “handouts”) for your audience to take away with them. If you have the Presentations for Librarians book, Chapter 8 is devoted entirely to handouts and gives some additional suggestions.
Have a great day!