While many venues have everything you need to simply show up and speak, others don’t. And even when they do, something can go awry—you can forget something, the venue can forget something, equipment malfunctions, or accessories can’t be found. That’s why seasoned speakers always have a “presentation kit” of sorts to cover all the proverbial bases.
We asked experienced speakers what they couldn’t do without, and here’s what they told us! Not all will be relevant to you, so take what works for you and create the presentation kit that helps you stay organized, calm, and professional.
Presentation Kit Items
- Your presentation in a variety of formats: Arguably the most important thing to remember! Your presentation should be on your computer, on a thumb drive, saved into a Dropbox folder, and anywhere else you can store it.
- Digital clicker/pointer: The venue often has one, but if your presentation has detailed images that you want to point out, bring your own pointer.
- Your own projector: Yes, it’s an investment, but you’ll never be dependent upon a venue or club’s equipment.
- Your laptop: So useful for so many things, not the least of which is your presentation (even if the venue says to just bring it on a thumb drive).
- Spare batteries: For everything. Trust us.
- Connecting cords/cables: This one is vital—if you’re bringing your presentation on your MacBook and expecting to connect it to the venue’s projector, don’t assume the venue has the correct cable converter so the equipment can “speak” to each other. Bring your own to be sure you’re covered.
- Extension cords: You never know.
- 3-prong adapter: Older rooms or venues have 2-pronged outlets, and your 3-pronged cords won’t be compatible. Buy an adapter or, better yet, a surge protector.
- Business cards: Plus any other print material like brochures or One Sheets you’d like to have on hand. (Don’t have a One Sheet? Read our blog post here!)
- Books: Unless the venue is ordering copies of your book through your publisher, you’ll be bringing a box or two with you. Don’t forget to bring a smaller amount of some of your older books—many speakers sell those books at events even if they’re not speaking on that topic!
- Form of accepting payment for books: Square reader? Cash? Checks? Think it through and be prepared.
- Signage: We know speakers who have their book covers with titles and relevant information printed on poster-sized foam board, a poster with their headshot and presentation information, or a small tabletop chalkboard with book prices.
- Audience giveaways
- Audience handouts
Tips for Keeping It All Organized
Yep, it’s a lot of stuff. Organize it now so you feel prepared and professional when you arrive at the venue.
- Have a carton or crate where you house most of these smaller objects and supplies so it’s at the ready for every presentation—avoid putting this kit together at the last minute before each presentation. Do an inventory check regularly to ensure you have all necessary supplies.
- Label your crates or envelopes so you know what’s inside.
- Make your own personalized checklist and be sure to refer to it before leaving home so you don’t forget anything.
- Buy a collapsible garden cart to easily transport your materials from your vehicle to inside the venue—making multiple trips for boxes of books, laptop case, and printouts is no fun.
Pro Tip: If you’re presenting several times that day or won’t be back to your hotel room until much later, consider bringing an extra shirt/blouse with you. Garden venues and events are notorious for getting dirty (Picking up the plants! Spilling coffee! That soil demonstration!), and the last thing you want is to have a dirty, messy shirt for your presentation.