Spring is in the air, which can only mean one thing – it’s conference season!
I love this time of year. It’s a time of renewal. I start to see grass, and our beloved clients come back to us for refresher classes, coaching sessions, and more tools to help bring the "wow" factor to their audiences at upcoming conferences.
We get lots of questions about preparation best practices. Of course our go-to resource for delivery preparation is the Rehearsal Process, but another important element of presentation prep is knowing the supplies you need on hand, just in case.
While this list might seem extreme, know that as a self-proclaimed Presentation Geek these are things I personally carry with me in ANY business situation. I’m always prepared to present (after all, it’s kinda my gig). These items are also things I have needed at least once in the past year.
So, here it is, the Official 2016 Conference Speaker’s Tool Kit:
- Visuals remote: Most audio/visual companies that support conferences will have a remote control for you, but it probably won’t be the one you’ve been rehearsing with leading up to the event. I also find most of the supplied remotes don’t have a Black Out key which I use often during presentations. Do yourself a favor and bring your own. It’s one less thing you’ll have to think about.
- Extra battery (ies): No need to be weighed down with a lot of extra batteries, but travel with at least one new battery that you can use in your remote. (Bring two if your remote requires two.) I tape the tiny AA battery for my remote to a business card and keep it in my Speaker's Kit (I use a small, vinyl bag) so I can quickly find it and use it if needed.
- Computer to VGA connection: This goes in the “just in case” category. Most modern projectors use HDMI to connect to a laptop for visual projection, but sometimes, for whatever reason, you need to connect to the VGA input. (For example, you’re faced with connecting to an older model of projector.) Ensure you’re VGA ready by having the appropriate connector for your laptop. Here's the one that I use.
- USB stick: Last minute alterations, a room change, and human error are all reasons why having a USB stick on your person is a must for presenters. You want to be able to move your visuals from one device to another EASILY and quickly, if needed.
- Cough drops: Like the batteries, you don’t need to become a walking CVS, but having one or two fresh cough drops in your kit can save you. Conference centers, hotels, and office buildings are all laden with dry, forced air (hot or cold), and that makes for one dry throat. Not to mention, your mouth and throat can also dry out from nerves.
(Here's my choice.)
- Extra business cards: This is Networking 101, but having a stack of business cards ready to grab after your fabulous presentation is invaluable. The few minutes after your presentation can be filled with lots of handshakes, questions, and hurried requests for more information or an additional conversation while your audience is shuffling
off to another session. Be prepared for a quick connection with extra business cards.
- Hard copy of your notes: Yes, you’re rehearsed and the confidence monitor is going to display your notes, so you’re good to go. But then… there's a room change, or your equipment fails, or you’re just plain nervous, and you lose your place. All good reasons to have a hard copy of your notes — just in case. I’ve seen a number of speakers resort to using their phone for notes. Trust me, you lose credibility when you’re presenting and look like you’re checking Facebook while talking.
- “Non-sweat” water bottle: For your comfort and safety. Conference speakers often need to share a table with computer equipment. I highly recommend investing in a non-sweat water bottle for your presentations. Maybe not everyone is as much of a klutz as I am, but the probability that I’d knock over a glass of water or an open water bottle is HIGH. Do yourself a favor. Save the earth — and the equipment — and have your water ready to go in a safe, sweatless container. You won’t get condensation on your hands (which might already be sweaty from nerves!) or splatter water on light colored clothing. (See my picture to the right...) My personal recommendation is this one.