A good presenter has a mental bag of tricks to rely on. In fact, the presenter is the presentation. Add a powerful visual element, such as a PowerPoint show, and you can't go wrong... until something goes wrong. A presentation kit with most of the following items could help you quickly recover from or even avert a disaster.
Note: This list is also available as a PDF download.
1: The presentation accessories
Many things you'll want in your kit are specific to the presentation at hand. The following items belong on your checklist, even though the tangibles will change with each presentation:
- Handouts for the audience
- A printout of your presentation and notes using large fonts (for you)
- A backup copy of the presentation on CD or thumb drive
- A map of the conference room and your layout design
- Evaluation forms
- Contact information for the site's technical support personnel
2: The equipment
Your laptop is an obvious choice, but a few other vital pieces of equipment might be easy to forget. Be sure to pack the following:
- Projector and replacement bulb
- Mouse and mouse pad
- Remote (the ones with the built-in laser pointer are nice)
- Headphones (if you use them)
- Appropriate cables, including a dual mini plug if you use a boom box for sound (#9)
- Video adapter (many projectors want VGA) if your laptop doesn't output VGA
Most conference facilities will supply some or all of these items, but working with your own equipment has its advantages: You'll be more at ease with your own equipment and you'll be able to quickly troubleshoot most problems. Also consider the addition of a portable screen. A blank wall works in a pinch, but it isn't the best way to present yourself, your product, or your company.
3: Electrical access
One extension cord is probably enough if you also have a power strip (carry at least one). The cord's length is up to you, but the longer the better. Just be prepared to secure it (#5) and stow the coiled up excess in a safe spot, perhaps under your table or on a podium shelf. Also carry a plug adaptor; older buildings still have two-prong outlets.
4: A battery of batteries
Carry a second battery for your laptop, even if yours is new and promises a long life. (They all do.) The day you don't have the extra is the day your battery will die and an electrical source won't be handy. Better yet, invest in a universal power supply; they're cheap and getting smaller and lighter.
You'll also want an extra set or two of batteries for every battery-powered device you use. Take inventory and have plenty of extras on hand. If your client or conference room staff agrees to supply these devices, ask if they also supply fresh batteries.
5: Duct tape
You can purchase duct tape in travel-size rolls. At the very least, you should secure electrical cords in high-traffic areas. Don't forget your own small space either. Tripping on a cord in the middle of a presentation is embarrassing and could displace equipment or even bring the presentation to a halt while you replug, reboot, and regroup.
6: Rubber doorstop
Always stash a rubber doorstop in your kit. Projectors are notorious for being uneven and wobbly. A doorstop will quickly put things right and steady.
7: Portable timer
Most monitors display the time, but it's a small indicator and not easy to see from a distance. If it's critical that you stay on track to accommodate time restrictions, use a portable timer -- something with a large display but that's otherwise discreet.
8: Security cable
Consider using a security cable to protect your laptop if you know you'll be in and out of the conference room. A cable won't stop a truly determined thief, but it'll slow one down.
9: Sound equipment
Sound files will usually feed directly into the room's sound system. If not, consider external speakers. The larger the room the more powerful the speakers should be. Nowadays, you can purchase small speakers with a lot of power without spending a lot of money. A boom box with auxiliary input might also do the trick. You'll need a cable with mini plugs on both ends; plug one end into the headphone jack on your laptop and the other into the auxiliary jack in the boom box. (Not all boom boxes have an auxiliary jack.)
10: Bottled water
This last one sounds a bit contrived: You can get water anywhere, can't you? Usually, you can. But if you can't, you'll be miserable. Put a couple of sealed bottles in your kit. If you don't have access to water, you'll have a backup, and any headache will be the result of thunderous applause and not dehydration!
More presentation survival tips
- 10+ keyboard shortcuts to help you deliver a smooth PowerPoint presentation
- Preflight checklist for your PowerPoint presentations
- Five PowerPoint add-ons that go beyond ordinary slide shows
- 10+ things to check when your presentation runs into technical problems
Other essential items?
What else do you make sure to take with you when you're delivering a presentation? Share your recommendations with fellow TechRepublic members.
Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.