Here’s a conundrum… Should you send out a copy of your presentation materials to your registrants before your web seminar?
On the side of “Yes” we have a few compelling arguments:
- Attendees can write notes on the slides as they listen to you.
- Attendees can better see dense information that is difficult to read on the screen.
- Attendees don’t keep asking during the session whether they can get a copy of the slides.
On the side of “No” we have counterarguments:
- If registrants can look through your information ahead of time, their concentration on you during the presentation is greatly reduced. They are paging forward, seeing what is coming next.
- Registrants may decide that your materials are sufficient for their needs and there is no reason to spend the time to come to your session. You raise the probability of lowered attendance.
- Even if they attend and concentrate on your presentation, the impact of your presentation is greatly reduced. It’s like telling a joke where the audience already knows the punchline.
My personal preference is to never provide my slides ahead of time. I want the element of surprise on my side during the presentation. The argument about being able to read dense information on paper better than they can on the screen is specious. You shouldn’t be placing dense, small font information on your slides. If you have reference information in dense blocks of text, busy charts, graphs, or tables, by all means distribute it in electronic form before your meeting. You can refer to it during the course of your presentation. But get it off your slides. Now you don’t have the problem of readability and you can safely leave your presentation material where it belongs… In the presentation environment.
Teachers using web conferencing as a virtual classroom may feel differently about this subject. But even in the educational environment, I would far prefer to supply my students with a workbook or reference document to use during the course than to simply give them a printout of my slides. You save preparation time by simply repurposing your slides, but at the expense of lowering the effectiveness of your training presentation.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.