Presentation Hack: Giving Your Audience Digital Links

Imagine you're giving a presentation to a large group. During it, you referenced a few blog posts that dig a bit deeper into a particular topic. Or maybe you showed a video. Or quoted from a book. Or offered the entire slide deck to members of the audience. Or willing to give out a digital handout.

And now audience members want that link. Or that file. Or a copy of that research.

How do you handle the logistics of distributing these things?

I remember back a decade ago when audience members would line up after my presentations (flash drives in hand!) so I could plug them in, one (1) at a time, and copy digital files of my slides or other promised resource materials. Inevitably, at least one (1) of the flash drives would run out of memory before all the files were copied over. If you've attended conferences between, oh let's say 2005-2015, you know the drill!

Or maybe you posted your email address on the screen so attendees could reach out over the next week requesting the files. If you were efficient, you wouldn't reply to each one (1) individually, but rather collect a list of email addresses so you could send out the resources in groups using BCC functions. (Then again, maybe you wanted that personalized touch and actually did reply to each separately!) And through the process, we all experienced those frustrating auto-rejection responses when file sizes were too large for our recipients' mailboxes.

However, cloud storage has been a game-changer to these now-antiquated practices.

Platforms like Google Drive, Scribd, iCloud, or any other of the cloud storage services allow easy sharing of files and folders. I personally use Dropbox. It's simple for me to drag relevant files into a folder, then share the link with anyone who wants access. I'm no longer giving away copies of files; I'm giving away links to folders.

But how do I give away those links? I'll offer a few options:
  1. Post your email address on a final contact slide so attendees can reach out directly to you. When they do, send them the weblink to the files or folders they've requested. 
  2. Publish an easy-to-find blog post that contains special links for the audience. I did something very similar for listeners to a podcast on which I was a guest. 
  3. Post a QR Code on your last slide. Better yet, have it on a slide during your looping outro slides! Have it link directly to whatever resource or file or folder you'd like. You can even set up the QR Code to send emails, subscribe to email lists, share contact information, send text messages, go to online surveys or evaluations, and a number of other functions. 
  4. Post a QR Code inside a paper handout or workbook that was distributed before or after the presentation. 
  5. Post a QR Code on an easel inside the room or foyer of your venue.
Generating your own custom QR Codes is done in a matter of seconds through any number of free online services, like this one.

Take this above projected slide or page in a paper handout. If this were displayed either on the screen or printed on a page, audience members can scan it and go directly to the referenced blog post. (Go ahead...try it!)

What I especially like about the cloud storage and sharing method here is that I tailor and update the folders to whatever we talk about in class or in the presentation, even if unexpected. I can personalize the folder after that particular session by populating it with appropriate links/files.

Yes, I'm aware that QR Codes never really took off like some had hoped. And yes, they're ugly. But they still work really well for accomplishing what I've explained here. And depending on the group, it can be a clean, quick, efficient method to get your audience the materials they want.

Is this trick for everyone or every presentation? Absolutely not.

Might some attendees need a quick explanation on how to download a QR reader app? Yup.

Think about how else you can gain an advantage by using cloud storage or QR codes in your presentation. The options are virtually endless.

And keep in mind this is not something that should be done to necessarily make things easier for you. Do it only if it's something that is easier for them!


Aside from writing on a variety of topics, I publish a column of blog posts under the label Presentation Hack. Check them out for ideas, tips, and tricks to better public speaking or classroom experiences!


Lou Hayes, Jr. is a police training unit supervisor in suburban Chicago. He studies human performance & decision-making, creativity, emotional intelligence, and adaptability. Follow Lou on Twitter at @LouHayesJr or on LinkedInHe also maintains a LinkedIn page for The Illinois Model.


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