There you are, about to give your killer presentation to room that’s just packed with your ideal clients.

You mentally push down the butterflies rippling through your stomach and try to walk calmly up and down the aisles while you pass out the slide handouts for the presentation you’re about to deliver.

The attendees immediately bury their heads as they flip through the handouts, reading the slides. A couple of people skulking in the back of the room slip out the door as you clear your throat to begin.

Hold it right there.

Stop. Rewind.

You’ve just made one of the most common speaker mistakes.  It’s okay – you did it with the absolute best intentions. You wanted to provide value to your audience.

Handing out your presentation slides before you deliver your talk creates two big problems:

1. During your presentation, it distracts your audience by giving them something else to read and do while they’re in the room with you. A big no no.

As the speaker or presenter, your goal is to have the rapt attention of each and every person in the room. You do not want them reading pages or slipping from the room because they believe that they’ve gotten what they hoped from your talk.

2. After your presentation, it eliminates much of your attendees’ motivation to continue the relationship with you. As a business person, your goal is to give your audience members a reason to share their contact information with you, so that you can deepen the relationship over time.

So, now let’s replay this scene:

Before you launch into your presentation or during the talk itself you assure your audience that they don’t need to take extensive notes because you’ll be happy to email a comprehensive handout and resource list to everyone who gives you their card. (You can also bring a pre-made sign up sheet with you and have it passed around the room, for people to provide their email addresses.)

Instead of copies of your powerpoint slides, create a single page outline of your talk that covers the major concepts and email it to everyone who requested it. Throwing in an additional sheet or two of helpful resources will go a long way in solidifying your image as a credible (and helpful!) expert.

Best of all, you’ve now got a list of highly qualified prospects that you can interact with.

P.S. Just to be clear, getting someone’s name and email to send them information following a presentation IS NOT permission to add them to a recurring email list. Make this mistake and you risk being labeled a ‘spammer’ by your internet service provider, barring you from sending email at all. You CAN invite them to join your list (and if you do, it’s a good idea to let them know what value they’ll get from joining.)

Want to jump start your public speaking? Start here.


  1. on June 11, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    The Speaker/Presenter’s Costly Mistake

    There you are, about to give your killer presentation to room that’s just packed with your ideal clients. Avoid this costly mistake. Try this, instead.

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