by Adam Noar
Your palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy.
No, you’re not about to step into a rap battle with Eminem. You’re about to deliver the presentation of a lifetime, and if you’re gonna nail it, you better be showing up with more than just your PowerPoint or Prezi presentation and a laptop. Your presentation toolbox should contain an arsenal of deadly weapons that help you give the delivery of a lifetime.
Oh ya! … It’s time to start packing for your presentations like a ninja!
To make sure that you ace your next big spiel — whether it’s in front of the board of directors, a new angel investor, or potential customers — we want to share with you 20 killer presentation survival tips that will make all the difference.
Presentation Tool #1. Presentation Remote
Don’t end up tied to your computer or podium! You want to be fluid when you give a presentation and free to walk around; think of how iconic Steve Jobs looked, being able to walk around stage during his talks. Remember that motion creates emotion (just don’t get too motion-crazy or you might make someone in your audience seasick). That’s why you need to always have a wireless Bluetooth presentation remote.
Presentation remotes come in different forms:
* Traditional Bluetooth remote. We carry the Logitech Professional Presenter R800 with Green Laser Pointer for presentations, but that’s just us.
* Smartphone Remote – There are plenty of apps you can download to control your PowerPoint presentation from your phone — Google makes one especially for Android phones. If you have a Windows phone you can control your PowerPoint straight from your phone.
Presentation Tool #2. Portable Speakers
Many conference rooms have speakers already set up and ready to go, since there may be times that you need to play an important video clip during your presentation or maybe need to speak to a larger audience. If your luck is rotten and the audio equipment in the room is not working correctly, that could spell disaster. So take matters into your own hands and bring along a portable Bluetooth speaker, just in case! We recommend the Beats Pill due to its great design, rich sound, and almost-fits-in-the-palm-of-your-hand portability.
Presentation Tool #3. Thumb drive, External Hard Drive, or The Cloud
It’s easy to fall for the temptation of emailing yourself your presentation or keeping it stored on your laptop. Not to make you paranoid, but what happens if your email is hacked, or your laptop crashes? You always want to have a backup of your important presentation whether it’s on a physical thumb drive, an external hard drive, or in the cloud with Dropbox or Google Drive.
Presentation Tool #4. Notepad and Pen
It would look pretty unprofessional of you to not be involved in a conference — whether as a speaker or as a presenter. Be prepared to be asked lots of questions when you give your presentation and write them down, otherwise you will surely forget (and look sort of like a doofus). There is also a good chance your audience will ask for certain follow up items so you need to remember what those follow up items are. An essential element in any presenters toolbox is a good notebook; we recommend splurging on a Moleskine, because they hold up well over a long period of time and give a professional, polished vibe to your presentation.
Presentation Tool #5. Diet Coke (Or Whatever Else Gets You Energized)
OK, so we can’t claim credit for this tip. This is actually a presentation tip from Tim Ferriss. He gets a caffeine buzz going by taking one 16-oz. Diet Coke 45 minutes prior to speaking and another about 20 minutes prior to speaking. Yes, Diet Coke will give you hairy palms and insomnia, but the caffeine dosage has worked well for him when taking the stage, as anyone who has seen him talk will attest.
If you get jittery when you drink coffee or Diet Coke, this might be one to avoid, or you may just want to limit Ferriss’s Diet Coke technique to only one, right before the presentation. Or drink some orange juice or a chocolate milkshake or whatever it is that gives you a good buzz.
Presentation Tool #6. Water
We hate to sound like your mom, but you really should drink water, all the time, because hydration is good for the body. It’s an essential public speaking tool, because when you’re up speaking you need water from time to time to keep your mouth from getting dry. Not to mention, there’s a chance that all that adrenalin coursing through you will get you a bit sweaty.
Presentation Tool #7. Mints
We’re getting ahead of ourselves a little bit, since technically this is more of a post presentation tip. But anyways! When you’re answering questions after you talk you want to make sure you are feeling and smelling fresh. Obviously you should know better than chewing gum, since that looks super unprofessional and you don’t want to look like a cow chewing its cud after a meal. Altoids are yummy and come in handy little carrying packs. Another great alternative are Ricola cough drops, which taste great and also soothe your throat if you’ve really been talking your jaw off.
Presentation Tool #8. Business Cards
You’d think this wouldn’t need to be on a list of business presentation gadgets, but we’ve made this mistake ourselves more than once. After you’ve just nailed your presentation, all your new fans are going to want to get in touch with you. How are people supposed to get in contact after you just gave a great presentation? Make sure to bring plenty of cards to pass out afterwards. If you happen to be looking for a sleek and stylish business card click here.
Presentation Tool #9. Backpack or Laptop Briefcase
You want to make sure that all the awesome presentation tools and accessories that we are talking about in this article are properly cocooned from any potential damage, and also because you want to look as professional as possible when you enter the conference room to deliver your presentation. Invest in a quality bag to carry all of your stuff, and consider something that is waterproof in case it rains.
Presentation Tool #10. Handouts for Your Audience
A great way to really make an impact with whoever you’re speaking to is to give them something to take with them when the presentation is finished. Think about what you want to give your audience during the presentation, and what you want to leave behind for you audience to keep.
Do you want to leave behind a printed copy of the presentation? Maybe a brochure of your company? Think about what you can leave behind besides your business card.
Of course you can also email them something as a follow up but sometimes a physical copy can be more memorable than an attachment in an email.
Presentation Tool #11. Laptop Display Adapters
You always want to make sure that your laptop is going to be compatible with the display equipment (most often this would be a flat screen TV these days).
If you have a newer laptop there is a good chance that it no longer has the classic VGA port that we are all accustomed to. Most of these VGA ports have been replaced by HDMI ports, rendering them mostly obsolete.
Except for the conference room you’re presenting in, which for some reason is still set up to run off of VGA adapters. Just your luck! Be prepared for the worst and keep an HDMI to VGA adapters to solve this issue.
Presentation Tool #12. Tablet
Sometimes having a tablet such as an iPad Mini is all you need to get your message across. It can come in handy if you want to present and then take notes using your laptop. This can be useful if you are getting lots of questions and follow up items and you prefer to type rather than write. An iPad mini can also come in handy if you’re presenting 1 on 1 to somebody at your local coffee shop and don’t want your larger laptop in the way looking ostentatious.
Presentation Tool #13. Smartphone
Pretty much everyone these days has a smartphone, and as we’ve already pointed out, you can use yours to download a remote app. But there are other reasons why you should carry your smartphone with you.
* You can use your phone to set a timer if you’re under a strict time limit
* You can use your phone to poll your audience (more on that next)
* You can use your phone as a remote
* You can throw your phone at hecklers (just kidding, don’t do that)
Presentation Tool #14. Live Audience Polling Software
The best presentations are the ones that are the most engaging. If you are delivering a presentation to a decent-sized audience you may want to make the presentation more interactive by polling your audience live.
One way to do this is by using a audience polling technology software like PollEverywhere. The way the app works is by typing in a question, selecting the kind of poll you want to make, and then sharing it with your audience in real time. They can answer the poll using their mobile phones, or Twitter. What’s really neat about this type of PowerPoint polling software is it brings about the possibility of integrating your presentation into the rest of the world, not confining it to the conference room.
Presentation Tool #15. Computer Mouse
If you are making your presentation from a laptop, it helps to have a mouse with you. A mouse will make you faster and more efficient than the trackpad built into the laptop. Every serious video gamer reading this right now is nodding in agreement with us.
Presentation Tool #16. Watch
While many people don’t carry a watch anymore due to smartphones replacing them, they can still be of use when it comes to presentations. This can especially be true if you’re on stage and you want to be able to quickly glance at the time without fumbling around with your phone in front of everyone.
You literally must be heard if you are going to have an effective presentation. If you’re speaking in front of a large group of people you will probably need a microphone. Most of the time a mic will be provided for you but having a backup of your own can’t hurt.
Presentation Tool #18. Batteries
Just in case you forget to fully charge your phone or laptop, you’ll also want an extra set or two of batteries for every 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.
Presentation Tool #19. Extension Cord and Power Adapter
One extension cord is probably enough if you also have a power strip handy. The cord’s length is up to you, but the longer the better. Never know how far away your device(s) will be from an outlet. Just be prepared to secure it and stow the coiled up excess in a safe spot, perhaps under your table or on a podium shelf. Also carry a plug adaptor if you’re delivering your talk in an older building, since many of them still have two-prong outlets. Also, if you’re going to a different part of the world for a presentation, don’t forget to bring an adaptor with you!
Presentation Tool #20. Duct Tape
Duct tape is useful for more than MacGyver episodes. You can purchase duct tape in travel-size rolls. It’s worth having around to tape down and secure extension cords and other objects that could potentially be tripped on while you’re speaking.
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 pretend that didn’t just happen in front of people you’re supposed to be impressing.
Presentation Bonus Tool: Video Camera
But wait! There’s more! If you have a spectacular presentation (that is not subject to NDAs or other confidentiality agreements) then why not share it with the rest of the world? Set up your favorite video camera, record the whole thing, and then broadcast it on YouTube like you’re the next big TED talks darling.
Reviewing presentation on video can also turn you into a better presenter. You may hate seeing yourself on video but it will make you aware of what your doing right and what you can improve on.
Preparing, sustaining, and ending a presentation with few to no glitches require a lot of foresight. Some of these tools will serve you well while others just may not be part of your personal style.
Choose what works best for you and have fun choosing your alternatives. And even if you don’t foresee needing to use any of these tools, if you’re going to be at a conference where others are also speaking, consider bringing a few extras for others. Imagine a scenario where another important speaker has forgotten something crucial like and HDMI cable, and then you step forward with yours. What a great way to make an instant, positive connection with someone else!
Alright, we’re out — when it’s your turn to step up, don’t forget these presentation tools at home. And going back to our Eminem reference don’t forget to lose yourself, because this might be the only shot you get ;)
Video Camera – VFS Digital Design – Ryan Honey