Issue #186 June 2, 2009

PowerPoint Tip: Equipment to carry when presenting

When I travel to deliver customized workshops or speak at conferences, I carry the normal equipment for a presenter: my laptop, presentation remote and projector if required. In today’s tip, I want to share with you a few of the other pieces of equipment I carry that come in handy when travelling. I know all of these are perfectly OK to carry on an airplane since I regularly have my laptop bag searched when going through security. The first item I carry is a VGA extension cord. Mine is 15 feet long. It allows me to move my laptop away from a podium or projector. Too often, A/V people position the cord to connect the laptop to the projector in places that cause a problem as a presenter. One common setup is the cord taped to a podium, which I never use because it creates a barrier between the audience and myself. The other common situation is a short cord right beside the projector, which is blowing hot air right into my laptop, overheating it. This cord came in handy in March when I was a speaker at a conference in Los Angeles and I used the cord to help out a panel session where the laptop wasn’t close to where the panel was seated. The cord allowed the laptop to be in front of the panel and made the session more comfortable for the speakers and the audience. The second item I carry is my wireless mouse. One reason I carry it is because when I am working in a hotel room, I find it much more comfortable to use a mouse than to use the touchpad on my laptop. I use a wireless mouse instead of a retractable wired mouse because it can then also serve as a backup for my presentation remote. If my remote fails, I can use my wireless mouse as a substitute until I can replace the remote. The final item in my laptop bag that I want to share with you is a small travel alarm clock. It is easy to set and use. I use it in two ways. First, when I am in my hotel room, I always use it to wake me up in the morning. If you stay in as many hotels as I do, you don’t have time to figure out all the alarm clocks and you learn not to trust them. So I know I’ll always wake up on time if I use my own. Second, when I am presenting, I set it to the local time and sit it beside my laptop. This way, I always know what time it is, even if there is no clock in the room or the time on the clock in the room is wrong (happens often around the change to/from daylight savings time). It makes sure that I can manage questions or exercises and we finish on time. None of these items are high-end technically, but they are three of the most valuable items I carry in addition to the normal items presenters carry. Think back over your own experiences and see how often one of these pieces of equipment would have been valuable to have. Now you know why I carry them – and suggest you may want to as well.