One of the keys to a successful in-person 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 that can happen before and during your presentations. Whether you are speaking across the globe or down the street, create a presentation 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 that 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 AC adapter, but you can find a number of universal power supplies at your local office or computer supply store.
- 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 9-volt 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.
- Adapters and dongles: HDMI to VGA adapter and other dongles to ensure you can connect your laptop to the provided projection system. Mac users often need an expanded selection depending on the types of ports on their notebooks.
- Mouse and mouse pad.
- A three-prong extension cord or power strip.
- AV or gaffers tape to tape down cords; duct tape is too sticky and leaves lots of residues.
- 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 a wobbly or uneven projector.
- A backup copy of your presentation on an 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.
- Playing music? Smartphone or laptop loaded with royalty-free music you can play during walk-ins and breaks in your program, plus your personal playlists of music, movies, and TV shows. I typically play music directly from my laptop and then connect the sound system to my laptop.
- Notebook or Bluetooth speaker for video audio and music for smaller sessions.
- Cell phone, video camera, surge protectors, and chargers for all mobile devices; adapters and airline chargers for international travel. Bring a tripod with a phone or camera attachment if you want to shoot a video of your presentation.
- 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 on heavy cardstock.
- Monitor extension cables. Although this may not be needed by many presenters, a monitor extension cord (I have these for both VGA and HDMI connections) is one of my essentials as I present directly from my laptop and often need to move it further away from the projector.
- Labels with my name and contact information on my laptop and all accessories.
- 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 such as Singer’s Saving Grace.
- 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 driver’s license. Also, upload to the cloud for easy reference.
- A collection of $5, $10, and $20 bills for tipping hotel setup staff, AV team, 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 a number of my fellow presenters as well.
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© Dawn Bjork, MCT, MOSM, CSP®, The Software Pro®
Microsoft Certified Trainer, Productivity Speaker, Certified Speaking Professional