FAQ: Can I have a copy of your slides?

Justin sends through a VFAQ (VERY frequently asked question):  “I get asked all the time for a copy of my slides.  Did I hear you say recently that you don’t do that?”

Yes, I did say that.  And let me encourage you, exhort you, maybe even plead with you.  Just say no.

Here’s why:

One, your slides should simply support you as a speaker.  You are the content, not the slides, and my own polling results confirm over and over that audiences HATE speakers reading what’s on the slide.  So if they can read it, they don’t need you.  And the better you get at creating visual, support-oriented slides, the less those will read well.  I’m biased toward the Steve Jobs approach to slides, and Garr Reynolds has a great post on this.  Simply, great slides make poor handouts.

Two, you miss a great opportunity to summarize your key points in a handout that someone will actually use, forward to a friend, hang on to for future reference, or even quote in their own presentation, blog, or report?   Seriously, the last time you got a copy of someone’s slides, did you share them with pride because they were so useful?  But what if the presenter took the time to create a handout that was a useful summation of the content?  What a great opportunity for promotion and influence!

Three, a presentation is an audio/visual communication format.  The slides alone are only part of that, so sharing the slides alone is an incomplete experience.  Think of a book and a movie as two ways of telling a story – there isn’t a right or wrong, they’re just different.  But unless the movie is designed to have no audio track, watching it without the audio track doesn’t tell the story.

Finally, a pragmatic thought.  Sharing your slides could expose you or your company to copyright issues with stock images you’ve licensed, mis-use of your logo, etc.  Me, I pay for all my images, and the license I purchase gives me a right to use the image in a presentation, but not distribution.

The best slides make for the worst handouts.  Create handouts separately for optimum impact.

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