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Preparing Handouts and Workbooks

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The proper design of your handouts and workbooks at your events is extremely important. People who go to events longer than an hour or two in length expect to receive a handout or workbook.

I have seen more than one marketing “guru” give a high-priced seminar and not provide a single handout. Nothing! This makes no sense to me. I had to conclude one of two things about this individual. Either he was lazy or he had some secret motive for doing things this way. I have not yet been able to convince myself that any valid motive exists for this kind of oversight.

For any event of two hours or less, put together a handout. If it’s a short presentation, put together a short handout. It should be no more than three pages. For an event from half a day to a full day, you need to put together a small workbook of 20-40 pages. The shorter the event, the lower the number of pages.

Events that are longer than a day should be enlarged accordingly. I’ve seen five-day events where attendees receive huge three-ring binders. If your event is highly experiential, you may be able to get away with giving away less paper.

The outline you created for the seminar becomes the skeleton for your workbook. Take your outline and include some of the sub-points under each major topic. I recommend you make your handout or workbook somewhat interactive. Have participants fill in the blanks and do other clever things to get them to interact with the workbook. But, don’t overdo it.

You’ll also want to include other supporting documents: articles you’ve written, articles others have written, lists of resources, and anything else you think would be helpful to support your material.

You must also include a table of contents for your event. Let people know what is going to be covered and in what order. (Remember, however, not to include specific time frames for each topic, just in case you have to change the times.)

Include your bio, customized to this specific seminar. Highlight points that are relevant to your attendees.

Include as many samples as you can. Do this within the bounds of cost constraints. Unfortunately, the larger your handout or workbook, the more it will cost you. A binder that runs 200 pages will cost you upwards of $10 per attendee. Give them as much as they need, but don’t break the bank.

Particularly if you’re taping the event but even if you’re not, you should include in the handout hard copies of all of your visuals. Obviously, people who buy the tape(s) of the event won’t be able to see the things you’re pointing to on the screen in front of the audience, so including them in hard-copy form is essential.

At the back of every handout or workbook, I include a list of people and firms I recommend. Rather than just use the term “references,” I like to call it my “Million-Dollar Rolodex.” It sounds sexier and gives the perception of much greater value.

Something I have learned the hard way is that the workbook pages must be numbered. I like the idea of using letters to identify all the samples in the appendix. In the past I’ve tried to get people to look for things in the manual without numbered pages. I don’t recommend it. You’ll hear about it on the evaluations if you don’t number the pages.

Never attach your order sheet to the handout you give to people at the beginning of a class. I just attended a workshop in which this was done. It will not help you to maximize sales and it annoys some people who perceive they are paying for your product pitch.

If you have guest speakers, get their handouts in advance. Make sure that if they have additional handouts outside your main handout, they have at least 10-20% more copies than you need. Insist that they give you a “clean” copy of the handout that they use at the time they speak. If you don’t, you’ll have to track them down later to get the handouts from them. When you have multiple speakers at a bootcamp, this can become a nightmare.

Also, if you intend to record and sell tapes of an event with multiple speakers, be careful! Tell each speaker not to make the handouts too long. All this will do is increase your cost of product and mailing when you duplicate and fulfill orders for the product you create. 

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