Presenter’s Manifesto: Bring Your Own Gear

Avoiding Embarrassment 101

When presenting on the road (a.k.a. an “away game”) Murphy’s Law rules supreme: when you really need your venue to supply <insert important thing> to do your presentation, the odds are good that you will be disappointed. So what to do? Tip 13, Bring Your Own Gear, recommends that we bring anything crucial to our presentation along with us to the venue.

Vintage gear - Don't bring one of these.

Vintage gear – Don’t bring one of these.

It is good practice to never assume you will have everything you need made available to you at the venue, unless you’ve personally verified it ahead of time, and even then maybe not. Here are a few things to consider when taking your presentation on the road:

  • An adequate projector. If you do a lot of presenting, and you do it mostly in conference rooms or similar size settings, consider investing in your own projector. You will be completely familiar with its operation, and there will be no embarrassing surprises in front of your audience. Consider purchasing and carrying an extra bulb. Bulb failure is typically the worst disaster you’ll need to overcome.
  • Video Adapters. Some venues will have an adequate projector for their space. Your job is to arrive early enough to work out the details of hooking up your laptop. It is bad strategy to assume the venue will have a video adapter that works with your laptop. It is bad form to be noodling this out in front of your audience. At minimum, you should carry a VGA adapter, and probably even a HDMI adapter as well. Large venues often have knowledgeable staff that know the in-house projector and can be extremely helpful.
  • Internet access. If you absolutely need Internet access, check with the venue first. Never assume they have it. Never. If they say they can provide you with a connection, arrive early to work out any issues with cabling or wireless access, and then test the responsiveness from within your presentation. In all cases, bring your own Internet access in the form of a mobile WiFi “hot spot”. Most phone service providers offer tethering options for smartphones for a nominal fee. Whether or not the venue has satisfactory Internet connectivity, you’re all set.
  • Keep videos local. Streaming videos live over the ’Net is always a risky move. Much like Forrest Gump’s infamous box of chocolates, you never really know what’s going to happen. If you must use video, download the files to your laptop and include those in your slides.

Tip 13, Bring Your Own Gear, honors our audience, protects us from easily avoided embarrassment, and demonstrates our professionalism.

This post is part of the series “The Presenter’s Manifesto”.  You can find the beginning of the series here: Presenter’s Manifesto – Prologue