Appendix N: A Handout on Handouts and PowerPoint Presentations

A. Hard-copy Handouts

Format: A good handout has:

  • the exact title of your presentation (no variants that show that you have given the presentation elsewhere under a slightly different title)
  • your name, affiliation, and email address (some people will contact you afterward and you should encourage that)
  • a "professional" (and not a fancy-looking) font not smaller than 10 point (e.g., Times New Roman or Garamond)
  • numbers that allow you to refer quickly and effectively to the items they cover

Content: Good items to include on a handout are:

  • your quotations from foreign languages and your translation of them
  • a glossary of technical terms
  • a list of the names or dates you mention
  • a chronology or map or graph, if relevant
  • images that can be your back-up in case your PowerPoint presentation or other audiovisual equipment fails
  • a brief bibliography with items directly relevant to your topic

Organizational Tips:

  • Always xerox at least 30 copies of your handout before every big presentation. Do not wait until the last minute to find a copy machine. Use as little paper as possible for your handout. It is preferable to have all items neatly organized on one piece of paper, front and back. (No 4-5 page handouts with quotations from the Loeb that still show the entire uncut Loeb page.)
  • Professional presentations include the presenter's own translations, not the Loeb. Using the latter suggests you're not altogether familiar with the Greek or Latin.
  • Find a friend or fellow-presenter and ask him/her to distribute your handout while you are being introduced or speak your first lines. Do not waste three precious minutes to distribute it yourself. Offer the same service in return.
  • Leave a few handouts on empty chairs in the back for late-comers.

B. PowerPoint Presentations

Technical Tips:


  • Do not use too many color schemes. What looks good on your home computer may not look good in the big auditorium. Keep background simple.
  • Bring in items as you speak (check "custom animation" under "slide show," especially "appear and dim," but do not use TOO MANY tricks).


  • Limit your slides to a number you can realistically discuss.
  • Use bold characters, arrows and other pointers to call attention visually to items on the slides.
  • Do not use automated slide transition (use it if necessary while practicing, but not during the real lecture).

Labeling Visuals (Photos, Maps, Inscriptions)

  • Primary Sources: Museum, Inventory number, Painter's name, Date
  • Secondary:Sources: (e.g., After Smith, Ancient Athens, 1991, fig. 2)
  • All source information should be in smaller print.
  • Make sure every map has a scale and an arrow pointer.
  • Do not overcrowd the slide with images; the audience will not be able to see any details that you want to point out.
  • Make sure that your figure (if you download it from the web) is in large resolution and does not become fuzzy when you blow it up on the screen.


  • Make a print-out of your lecture. (Go to Print-select "Handouts"-select 6 per page.) Have a paper version of it. You can also make a copy of the entire PowerPoint on transparency sheets in case there is a transparency projector. Or make a conventional hard­copy handout.


  • Do not write everything on the PowerPoint slide; if you do, emphasize with bold the important parts.
  • Deliver more to your audience than what can be read on the slides.
  • Each slide should have a point, do not cram too much into one slide; comment on ALL slides you put on-otherwise what is the purpose of including them?
  • If you want to give some background information but do not want to analyze the information, say it, but do not just keep showing slides without saying anything.
  • Remember that the listeners should have time to write down any information they find interesting; do not fly through the slides.


  • There are various styles of presentation: teaching, seminar, conference-for a conference talk, you want to give some background (3-4 slides), but then proceed with YOUR specific observations and results
  • Keep calm throughout the presentation no matter what happens.
  • Do not apologize all the time for problems; otherwise, why didn't you fix them beforehand?
  • Indicate within the text of your paper very clearly when a slide transition has to occur and do it very naturally.
  • Refer briefly, if relevant, to previous lecturers' comments that reinforce your own comments