When You Are the Speaker

When I first started speaking to groups, I always assumed the organizer would have everything I needed. Keep in mind, this was long before we had laptop computers. In fact, I know I presented a few times using an overhead projector. Later, I would bring my presentation on a thumb drive. Sometimes, though, my file was a much newer version of the software program and the organizer’s computer couldn’t handle my presentation.

One time I was dinged because I had to stand near the laptop so I could advance my slides. Yep, the organizers didn’t have a wireless remote. And then there was the time, the organizers didn’t provide a glass of water.

By now, you probably have figured out where I’m going with this. I’m fully prepared as a speaker to be self-sufficient with the exception of the projector. Here’s what I take with me when I am presenting:

  1. Personal laptop with my presentation stored on the desktop and in the cloud (just in case!).
  2. Cables to connect my laptop to a projector. It seems that more and more every computer has a cable that is a slightly different size than what you need to plug into. I now have a few combinations to ensure that I can connect.
  3. Thumb drive. On the off-chance that I can’t connect to the projector and the organizer has provided a laptop or has a smart classroom, I can simple insert my thumb drive with my presentation, and I’m ready to go.
  4. The cloud. Technically, I don’t take this with me, but I always store a copy of my presentation in the cloud. If all else fails, I can access it via the web.
  5. Wireless clicker that allows me to advance my slides from most anywhere within the room. I don’t like to stand behind a podium because I prefer to engage with my audience. That means I need to move around the room.
  6. Bottled water so I can clear a tickle in my throat before it becomes a full-on coughing fit.
  7. Hard copy of my presentation. Sometimes technology doesn’t work no matter what you do. I’m always prepared to give a presentation without any technology.

How to Be a Good Speaker


If you follow the presentation tips here, you’ll have an audience that pays attention.

We’ve all been to conferences and workshops where the speaker had good information to share but something was lost in the presentation. If you’re asked to present, here are some tips to help make your presentation memorable.

  1. Provide us with a quick update about your background. We want to know what makes you an expert and why we should listen to you. Then move on and give the presentation because that’s why we are here.
  2. Respect the time schedule. We want to hear what you have to say, but when you go over your time limit, you make us antsy. We’re thinking about getting to the next session, or even the restroom.
  3. Speak to the audience, not the screen, which ties directly to the next tip.
  4. Don’t use so many slides that we don’t get to focus on you. Do use enough slides to give us visuals and another means to understand the topic. If you’re simply reading from the slides, you could have sent us the presentation to read on our own time.
  5. Use the microphone. Room acoustics can be challenging. For many of us our hearing isn’t what it used to be.
  6. Leave time for questions. No matter how much information you share with us, we’ll still have questions.

If you follow these tips, you can be sure your audience will not only learn but will enjoy learning.