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).
- 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.