Skills Hub

Handouts, notes and visual aids

A presentation can be improved with handouts, visual aids and activities. Here are some examples:


Handouts should be a summary of the important points rather than all the notes from your presentation.

Try making a version of the handout with your own notes in it, reminding you how to elaborate on the points in the handout. Make your notes in a different typeface from the handout, so you can tell what the audience can/can't see.

• Put the title, your name and the date at the top. Give information in bullet points.

• Use headings to show the different levels of information (main points, supporting points, examples).

• Cite sources where appropriate. Give a bibliography at the end of the handout, using a standard bibliographical style.

• Include important material, e.g. definitions, tables, illustrations.

• For a 20-minute talk, 2-4 pages should be enough, depending on how much data there is. If your handout has no data, aim for 2 pages.

• Make enough copies for everyone! Bring them stapled, hole-punched and ready to use.


Slides can be used to liven up your presentation:

    • Use for examples, illustrations, major points

    • Use diagrams to present or explain a theory

    • Make type at least 24pt. Don't put more on a slide than you could read easily on a T-shirt.

    • You could use a slide at the beginning to show the structure of the presentation.

Video / audio clips 

Video or audio clips can be useful, but use short clips so they do not dominate the presentation. Practise presenting the clips beforehand.


At the start, it can be helpful to ask your audience questions to engage them. It helps you find out what the audience already knows so you can pitch your presentation at the right level.

You might want to include activities such as audience participation, role play or games. Make sure you do not include anything that will upset or embarrass any of the audience. If you're planning something unusual, check with your tutor first.

• Make sure you coordinate between your notes and the aid, e.g. indicate in your notes where to change your slide or which number in the handout is the relevant example.

• Proofread your slides carefully. Typos are even more embarrassing when they're huge!

• Don't use unnecessary visuals, which may distract the audience. Everything you use should enhance your presentation and help to engage your audience.

• If you're projecting your presentation onto a screen behind you, don't walk in front of it.
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