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Posted: March 23, 2012

Presentation must-haves

Here are the essentials for every presenter's carry-on

Dawn Bjork Buzbee

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 may 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).

  • Laptop.
  • Dedicated laptop power supply which stays in your bag. Leave the factory 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.
  • Extra AA and AAA batteries for remote, headphones, and other equipment plus 2 spare 12V batteries for the wireless microphones in a meeting room. Although these are often supplied by a hotel or AV 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.
  • Duct tape to tape down cords; small rolls are available from most travel catalogs/sites.
  • Security cable for laptop; although these can be cut, it creates a deterrent to a swift thief.
  • Portable timer or clock with a readable display to monitor presentation time.
  • Backup copy of presentation on CD-ROM or USB flash drive to transfer it to another laptop if you have equipment failure. For an extra level of backup, send key files to an e-mail address or cloud drive you can access online.
  • Hard copies of presentation slide show and presentation handout.
  • Presentation notes.
  • MP3 player 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, digital camera, surge protectors, and chargers for all mobile devices; adapters and airline charges for international travel.
  • Stereo 1/8" (mini) phone to 2 mono 1/4" phone send return cable so you can plug your MP3 player directly into the sound system.
  • 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.
  • Network cable and wireless card for Internet access at hotel.
  • 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 designed for singers and presenters.
  • 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.

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.

Dawn Bjork Buzbee is The Software Pro® and a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) as well as a certified Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) Master Instructor, certified Microsoft Applications Specialist (MCAS) Instructor, and a certified Microsoft Office expert. Dawn shares smart and easy ways to effectively use software through her work as a speaker, trainer, consultant, and author of 6 books. Discover more software tips, tricks, tactics, and techniques at www.SoftwarePro.com . Contact Dawn at Dawn@SoftwarePro.com  or (303) 699-6868.

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Readers Respond

Great ideas, David. I never would have thought of adding disposable diapers to the checklist but this is a very practical idea. I usually travel with a small flashlight in case of a hotel emergency but I will now move it to my presentation bag. Most of my smaller items are stored in a bright red, zippered Eagle Creek bag so I can quickly pack and unpack my remote, mouse, etc. without worrying about leaving something behind. More great suggestions, Chris-thanks for sharing! Dry erase and flipchart markers are good additions as they are often missing or dried up in meeting rooms. For longer training sessions, I will sometimes bring Post-it flipchart paper to post items or priorities throughout the meeting. Lens wipes are really versatile and needed. And, a musical chime is an effective way to communicate with large groups. I also have a variety of sound files on my laptop desktop. By Dawn Bjork Buzbee on 2012 04 15
Great list, Dawn. I also make sure to carry three (black, red, blue) dry-erase and three flipchart markers - just in case I need to illustrate a point. Another handy item to have are those lens wipes in the foil packets. Works on my glasses, and on the almost never cleaned projector lenses. Good for making your laptop or Ipad screen clean as new, too. Finally, I learned from another presenter that one of the most powerful things to have is a musical triangle / chime. I've kept groups of nearly 300 people moving quickly through interactive exercises just by chiming (nicely) when needed. By Chris Hutchinson on 2012 04 05
Dawn - Two more items I always carry - 1) At least two disposable diapers. They are great for a very quick clean-up of spilled milk/coffee/soda. 2) A flashlight. I was giving a seminar in Greeley and the power went out. Though they had emergency lights, having a flashlight gave my guests a bit more confidence in me. By David Rosman on 2012 04 03
Thanks, Doug, for the laugh! You are right! These are a lot of items; edit the checklist for your own purposes. Some of my speaker friends can leave their laptops at home and only travel with their iPads because their presentations don't include a projector, PowerPoint presentation, music, etc. If you do present from a laptop, do you have digital and printed backup copies of your presentation, handout, introduction, etc. for the worst case scenario that your laptop stops working or is stolen? I'll be the first to admit that I don't travel light especially when I need to travel with 2 laptops which requires some fast moves in the TSA line. Thanks for your comments! By Dawn Bjork Buzbee on 2012 03 23
And a valet to carry all this stuff! By Doug Porter on 2012 03 23
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