I brought the requisite PowerPoint slideshow and embedded video to illustrate my points as the guest speaker for a college business class last week. I did not bring any handouts. In the spirit of Earth Day I suggested to the organizer that I simply make the presentation available by e-mail to anyone who asked. The audience took notes, asked great questions, and were interested in reading more and checking out video. No one asked for a handout.
The graduate-student mentality probably prompts students to more readily jot down information they need; professors don’t hand out guidelines for everything. But no one needs extra paper and copies of slides that are primarily designed to encourage a conversation or offer links to other content. Effective slides only have the bare bones — a few bullet points or one or two bits of key data.
Whenever I speak and the meeting host asks for copies of the presentation, I create a separate edited version for this purpose. And in the future I am going to respond to this request with a one- or two-page outline and the option to have the slides sent electronically.
When I facilitate training I know that participants require handouts in order to follow along and read, and for individual and group activities. Now, I am often pleased to see these printed on two sides and have noticed a reduction in excess copies.
In his book, Saving the World at Work, Tim Sanders describes how technology has increased our paper consumption, and he has a series of great suggestions to reduce individual footprints in this area.
My favorite is:
“Over the course of the last few decades, we’ve gotten into a habit: We print, then think. Instead, we should think first and only then print — maybe.”
Sanders describes printing lengthy PDF documents or presentations to read later only to find that they are 10 to 100 pages after paper is flying. He even suggests placing a sign on the printer that says, “Think Before You Print.”
Before printing anything, focus on the sections that are really needed. It can seem quicker to just press print on everything but the extra writing or data can make subsequent review more time-consuming. How many white papers have you printed out only to file for later reading — that you may never get to? Earlier today, as part of my editing of an employee handbook I moved paragraphs around and was thrilled to complete a 25-page document that had originally been more than 30 pages.
What steps have you taken to save all that printer paper and ink?