One of the keys to a successful presentation is to be prepared. This includes not only improving your expertise with your content and presentation skills but also anticipating what can and will go wrong. Whether you tote a briefcase, backpack, laptop bag or other carry-on luggage, packing a well-stocked presentation bag can be the answer to any number of problems which can happen before and during your presentations. Whether you are speaking across the globe or down the street, create a checklist of essential items which may include the following. (Note: This list assumes a projector, projector screen, and microphone are provided although some presenters are responsible for these as well).
- Dedicated laptop power supply which stays in your bag. Leave the original computer manufacturer version at your desk. Every time I buy a new computer, I also buy an extra adapter but you can find a number of universal power supplies at your local office or computer supply store.
- Extra battery for laptop.
- Presentation remote control; your own equipment which you have used before.
Find out how to choose a remote control
- Extra AA and AAA batteries for remote, headphones, and other equipment plus spare 12V batteries for the wireless microphones in a meeting room. Although these are often supplied by a hotel or A/V staff, when these go dead, it always seems to be in the middle of a presentation.
- Mouse and mouse pad.
- Three-prong extension cord or power strip.
- AV or gaffers tape to tape down cords; duct tape is too sticky and leaves lots of residue.
- Security cable for laptop; although these can be cut, it creates a deterrent to a swift thief.
- Portable timer or clock or timer phone app with a readable display to monitor presentation time. I run the Minimalistic Countdown Timer on my iPad and iPhone. Check out CountdownKings for download details.
- Rubber door stop for wobbly or uneven projector.
- Backup copy of presentation on accessible cloud drive or USB flash drive to transfer it to another laptop if you have equipment failure.
- Hard copies of presentation slide show and presentation handout.
- Presentation notes.
- Smart phone or laptop loaded with royalty-free music you can play during walk-in and breaks in your program, plus your personal playlists of music, movies, and TV shows.
- Cell phone, video camera, surge protectors, and chargers for all mobile devices; adapters and airline charges for international travel.
- Playing music? Stereo 1/8″ (mini) cable to 2 mono 1/4″ cable so you can plug your music player directly into the meeting room sound system. As an alternative, I typically play music directly from my laptop and then connect from the sound system to my laptop. For smaller sessions, bring a portable Bluetooth speaker for video audio and music.
- Noise canceling headphones to help buffer noisy plane flights.
- A spare pair of earbuds.
- Copy of AV room setup.
- Copy of your presentation introduction printed in a large font.
- Monitor extension cord. Although this may not be needed by many presenters, a monitor extension cord is one of my essentials as I present directly from my laptop and often need to move it further away from the projector.
- Labels on laptop and all accessories.
- Notebook speakers.
- Cough drops or throat drops; avoid cherry flavored which will give you an odd red mouth. I also travel with a small, portable throat spray.
- Pepto-Bismol chewable tablets, Imodium AD, and other first aid remedies to help you recover from a long flight or strange food.
- Eye mask for airplane naps. Also handy for ending unwanted conversations with annoying seatmates.
- Color copies of your passport and drivers license.
- A new, crisp $100 bill hidden in a zippered pocket of your carry-on bag. This can bail you out of a lot of trouble almost anywhere in the world.
- A collection of smaller bills for tipping hotel setup staff and other helpful personnel.
- Starbucks Coffee gift cards for handy thank yous.
- A copy of this checklist for easy reference and to add your own items.
- All this, and more, should fit neatly in your carry-on bag. Not only have these essentials saved me multiple times, but I have also rescued several of my fellow presenters as well.
By Dawn Bjork, MCT, The Software Pro®
Microsoft Certified Trainer, Technology Speaker, Software Consultant