Great handouts don't just happen!
Providing handouts and information sheets to clients is a great way to compliment your one-on-one sessions. However, great handouts do not just happen! They require some planning, researching and coordinating.
Poorly designed handouts can be hard to read for the intended audience and can end up not being in tune with your practice branding. Before you fly in and quickly put together your next handout, consider some of these points:
1. Who is the audience? Is the information for an adolescent or elder, inpatient or outpatient, support group, public at large, classroom or bedside? Will the audience understand English well?
2. What does the audience need to know? What might they know already? The focus of the handout should be around the patient’s needs and questions they may have. You can even write it as a ‘frequently asked questions’ sheet.
3. How will the handout be distributed? How will it be printed; professionally or will you print it yourself? Who will give it to the client/audience? Do you need to teach staff how to deliver the handout to the intended audience?
4. Are other resources already available? Is there something that has been started already? Or a pre-existing handout that can be adapted? Is there anything available from another practice that you can share to save you time? Can you swap handouts with someone else so both parties' benefit?
5. Will there need to be images? I think images are a great addition to any handout. They can add clarity to instructions and help people who are visual learners, that may not read all the words. Think about where you source the images from. Can you take photos yourself to demonstrate what you are trying to communicate? Will images from elsewhere need to be referenced? When you print the handout, are the images clear and crisp?
6. Have you thought about formatting? Do all your handouts have a similar format? Think about the choice of font and layout so that all your handouts have a similar look. They need to contain your logo and be set out in a way that is easy to read. Handouts that are blurry, or are photocopies of photocopies, sit crooked on the page, or are just old looking, are not good advocates of your brand. If you have any like these, think about updating them.
7. Remember to avoid jargon and abbreviations. It is easy to forget and assume people know more than they might actually know. For example, the term ‘post-operative’ might seem like a common word, however, this might be better replaced with ‘After your surgery…’ to make it clearer for the reader. Even words such as ‘elevate’ could be changed to ‘raise’. Show any current handouts you have and ask people who do not work in your field which parts they understand and which words need to be simplified.