Posted by Vanessa Branscome on Jan 15, 2020 9:14:09 AM

Instructional Designer Common Mistakes Using Training Handouts

Instructional Designers Best Practices

A good Instructional Designer will use best practices when creating training handouts. Here are common mistakes you should avoid.

They know that training handouts are very powerful training tools. Not only do they provide reinforcement to participants of content learned, but they also stay with the participants for a long time after the training. However, many trainers are so focused on creating their presentations that they wait until the last minute to create their handouts and often they don't align to the learning objectives. Handouts are a critical part of your training and having the proper content on your handouts is an important part of the total training experience.

Here are a few mistakes you want to avoid when trying to create a successful handout:

Printing out your PowerPoint slides

Trainers make this mistake all too often. A printout of your PowerPoint slides is not an adequate way to create your handout. There are a few reasons for this.

Think about why you’re creating handouts in the first place.

A few reasons would include:

1. To supplement your content

2. To give learners a takeaway

3. To extend their knowledge past what they’ve learned

4. To support their current work roles

Your PowerPoint slides should be used to support the content you are facilitating on and built on solid learning theories. This means that the content displayed on your slides shouldn’t contain a lot of information to begin with.

Another reason why this wouldn’t be a good idea is because participants will get the idea that they don’t need to pay attention during your training since they now have access to your slides.

Information Dumping

Of course, you have a lot of good information that you want your learners to have but cramming it all onto a sheet of paper will produce the opposite effect than what you would hope to achieve. This poor course design will only hurt the participants overall learning experience.

Handouts should promote engagement. Including items such as diagrams or fill in the blanks will allow participants to follow along with your content while being able to make their own application.

Be sure to also allow for a lot of white space, as many participants will want to take their own notes.


In anything we do, presentation is always key. Your handout should follow the same format as your presentation so that your participants know where they should be looking to for information on a certain topic.

Use a font that is simple and easy to read.

The distribution of your handout is also a part of its presentation. Are you handing out loose sheets of paper that can easily get disorganized or misplaced? Or are you aware of those small details and providing your handouts in an organized pocket folder?

Don’t forget that you also have different channels of distribution available to you. There’s never a one size fits all approach. Some learners prefer to receive their handouts digitally while others may prefer print. You may want to consider a solution that can allow for both printed copies as well as a digital version.

Remember, your handouts are an extended element to your training's so preparing these ahead of time will help ensure a successful training environment. A solid training needs assessment will help when making decisions as well.

Want to learn more ways to make your training impactful?  Download our free ebook.

Transform Corporate Training


Topics: instructional designer, facilitator, facilitators, contract trainer

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