No Handouts?

Have you been reading the comments and blogs posts in the past couple weeks, since Nicole Engard on her blog What I Learned Today posted about not giving out handouts at her presentations in order to be green? It is something worth considering. Tons of paper is wasted from large conferences (even with much of it being supposedly recycled). Most conferences now offer to host your presentations online (and most presenters also plan to post their information online) and these can be download at or following the conference. Also, many people take notes at conference presentations directly on their laptop or mobile devices.

Some people argue they need handouts to follow and understand the presentation, that it is better for their learning style. What to do? Someone commented on Nicole’s blog about shredding wasted handouts and using them for composting. Several people have commented that they do the one sheet handout – one page only with basic information but direct people to go online to find the bulk of the content. I have been using this method for a while, to cut back wasted paper yet still please those who want something in their hands. I also have taken many classes online instead of in person at the conference physical location (which cuts back on way more than saving paper!) When I worked in map libraries we took the old, discarded maps, cut up as scratch paper (maps also makes good wrapping paper for gifts) so we were reusing before recycling. The SLA Conference (begins this weekend in Seattle) will be offering handouts only online. It will be good too to see how people attending like this idea or not.

Something I learned at a leadership institute I attended a few years ago: change takes time and you can’t please everyone, but sometimes you have a be a pioneer and risk it anyway.

IMHO, the better a presenter facilitates learning with interactive, audience participation, multifaceted sessions, the more everyone seems to learn (by doing instead of being told).


One thought on “No Handouts?

  1. I spoke at Texas Library Association this year, and they’ve gone to a virtual-handouts-only method and cut down on paper enormously in general. I usually don’t do handouts anyway…and have found that they distract some listeners (much as liveblogging distracts listeners, I think). So I’m all in favor of virtual handouts.

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