First things first: You should ALWAYS endeavor to create a distinctly different leave behind for your presentation if a leave behind is necessary. It should be much more detailed, function more like a printed document and NOT simply be a printout of your on-screen slides.
There are a lot of strategies and tricks for creating a more detailed leave behind from your slides, and I'll be discussing some of these in my session at this year's Presentation Summit.
BUT ... creating TWO items for a presentation is a challenge, and sometimes you do just have to "hand your slides out." Whatever the content of these handouts looks like—and whether they are different from your on screen slides or not—there are still simple ways to have them be not so "PowerPoint-y."
This one is so simple I can't believe I never thought of it until recently when my project manager Dave suggested it for a very thin client proposal we felt would have seemed unsubstantial on normal paper. If you have a thin deck, printing on cardstock will make it seem literally and figuratively more weighty. Use a nice coated stock.
It's not just more green, but it can also make your slides seem less like a deck and more like a document. A simple layout change in your masters can place logos, page numbers and even headers on alternating sides of the page, so the end product does feel more designed.
A "bleed" is when imagery and graphics extend beyond the edge of the page without a white border. To do this for an entire deck, you'll need the help of a printshop that will print your presentation on larger than needed pages, then trim everything down. For trimming, there needs to be at least 1/8" on all sides that will be trimmed away, so your end document will be slightly smaller than your document page size unless you account for this (set up a letter-sized PPT file as 8.75" x 11.25"). Or, if you have a really good printer, he can actually blow up a document 1-2% before trimming back down to normal page size.
And of course, you'll need to design your presentation with content that does bleed off the page edges. But make sure that any important information is at least 1/2" from the edge—this is called a "safe zone."
4. A Designed Cover & Back
If you do nothing special on your slides themselves, at least create a well-designed cover page. Use a full page hi-res image and make sure it bleeds off the page. To create this, you'll either have to have the cover printed at a printshop or Kinko's or you can print on 11x17 paper in-house and trim it yourself. And while you're at it, make a back cover as well so you have a full attention-getting wrapper for your presentation.
5. Professional Binding
Whatever you do, avoid that awful plastic comb binding! If you've made friends with a good local printer, they can offer you more professional binding solutions such as wire or perfect-binding. If you do a lot of binding, replace that comb binding machine with a wire spiral binding one. We bought ours from these guys who are pretty good.
6. Unique Size
If you're trying to stand out among competitors, consider distributing your presentation in an unusual size. For big, involved presentations set up your file and print at tabloid (11x17). Or legal-sized (8.5x14) for something different but not as unwieldy. Finally, you can go the other way and print at a very small size. A printer can take your standard-sized presentation and print it at 50% of size to create more of a handbook for your audience. Note that whatever size your PowerPoint file is, it will still scale to fill the screen in presentation mode.
***7. Bonus for Super Presenters: Spreads***
If you really want your leave behind to standout, design your PowerPoint file as "spreads"—a double-sided print style in which content and layouts are designed as pairs of facing pages (just like a magazine.) This is an admittedly advanced solution in which you hack PowerPoint to work like a professional layout program, and it can involve bleeds and content that actually stretches from slide to slide (like a panoramic photo that lives half on one slide, half on the next.) If you're clever, you can create a spreads presentation that also works on screen. Stay tuned for more on spreads in the future...