Checklist: 8 Things You Need to Bring to a Speaking Gig

When you’re making your way to a speaking engagement, there are a number of obvious must-haves—your computer, charger, travel documents, etc. Over time, however, I’ve come up with a short list of not-so-obvious must-haves for speakers to ensure the event is seamless:

A Tech-friendly Backpack

I officially gave up the good fight with my messenger bag after giving a friend’s backpack a try. I was instantly hooked and eager to have something that actually provided even weight distribution on my back as I traveled. Equally as important, I was keen on a tech-friendly travel backpack that allowed me to pull out any and all adaptors and chargers with ease. Personally, I’m a huge fan of Timbuk2 for their style and longevity, but there are a range of options out there for you.


If you have a mac, it’s essential to assume that you’ll need to supply your own adaptors to connect the laptop in order to present. I can count on one hand the number of times in ten years that they were supplied for me. In fact, you’d be shocked at how many AV teams have limited experience with macs, so it will be entirely on you. Depending on the year of your laptop, you’ll need something different so be sure to visit a local Apple store with your laptop in hand so they can advise on every option available to you.

Wireless Presenter

Audio visual will make or break your presentation and while much of it is in the hands of the onsite AV team, I’d suggest bringing your own wireless presenter (this is my fave!). I don’t like to be surprised with a slippery grip- I’m still haunted by one talk where I was handed a slide changer on stage and it immediately slipped out of my hands and into the audience. Be sure to also bring back up batteries.

Portable Timer

I find that when I’m the keynote or on the main stage at a conference, there typically is a timer but in those instances that there isn’t, it’s best to have a portable timer handy to stay on schedule.

USB Drive

Your laptop could be in tip top shape, and you have all your adaptors at the ready, and there is still going to be an emergent reason for needing to present on a different computer. Don’t assume you’ll have Wi-Fi readily available on site- instead, have a final person of your presentation available so you can transfer with ease.

Travel steamer

Unless you’re presenting in town, you’ll be carrying your speaker outfit in a suitcase, which leads to inevitable wrinkles. I always have a travel steamer at the ready to work out any of the kinks.

Back up Outfit

I started questioning my need for multiple back up outfits for my presentation, but then I spilled makeup on myself just minutes before leaving my hotel room. Since then, I always have at least one more outfit on hand. Ideally, have something with a waist (like pants, skirt or belted dress) so it’s easier for the AV team to clip your wireless lavaliere.

Printed introduction

While I do email my introduction in advance, I find that the person actually introducing you will appreciate a copy on site in a larger font with ample spacing between lines. Be sure to note any hard-to-pronounce words to ensure things go off without a hitch!

Whether this is your first or five-hundredth talk, you’re inevitably going to get even a minor case of the nerves. By preparing yourself in advance with the above, you’re well on your way to walking on stage with the confidence of an expert.