Handouts are multipurpose tools that enhance most presentations. They are also another way to get audience members in fun. I provide handouts for virtually every presentation I do. One of the reasons is that audience members really enjoy being able to take something home with them. For me, it is also a way to make sure they have easy access to my name and phone number in case they have questions or if they want to hire me.
Computer programs make it very easy to create totally customized handouts for your presentations. These are valued by the participants and meeting planners much more than generic ones. I always make a customized cover that is printed on colored paper and that uses some type of graphic that pertains to the group. For instance, if I am speaking to the printing industry, I go to my electronic clipart collection and find something that pertains to printing. In this case I located a large roll of printing paper. If I don't have any clipart that pertains to the industry, I'll put a cartoon of myself standing on a map of their state. Don't be afraid to be creative. If it is customized to them, they will love it. Most of the time I customize the inside of the handout too. I only use modules that I know will pertain to their group and many times I include quotes that I got from the actual attendees during my pre-program interviews.
I always try to put something fun in the handout. I simply pulled out on-file humor that pertained to the group and gave it to them. This virtually insured that the handout would not be thrown away. I gave the attendees a reason for using the handout when they got back to their offices. The stress reducer exercise is lots of fun and again gives my handout a longer life. For space reasons I didn't put my name and address on each page in these examples. But when I am actually preparing handouts all my information goes at the bottom of each page.
Some presenters believe that you should not give out handouts until the end of your presentation. They think the attendees will read ahead and not pay attention to you. That could be a valid concern if you could not give them out very far in advance of the presentation. I give mine out early enough so the attendees can look through them to satisfy their curiosity before I start. Plus, I have built in elements like the stress reducer, take home funnies, and sometimes a custom crossword puzzle to encourage them to get in fun before I start.
I also use my handout as an involvement technique and memory jogger for me. I recruit audience members to follow along with the handout to make sure I'm on track. It gives them something to do and it substitutes for my notes. As soon as the audience member tells me the next topic, I start talking without notes because I've practiced each section thoroughly.
Another way to use the handout for involvement is to make an outline, but leave blank spaces for key words. The audience members must fill in the blanks. Example: It takes only 4 seconds for a telephone customer to decide whether they like you or not.