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Prepare Your Speaker’s Toolbox

By now, we all know that practicing your presentation and working on key public speaking skills will make you a better presenter. But practice and skill aside, there are other, more tangible, things that will help you excel at business presentations. I call these things your “toolbox essentials.”

Just as you prepare for your job by making sure you have key supplies on hand, when you’re taking on the role of “presenter,” you must prepare by making sure your speaker’s toolbox is stocked. Following are my top recommendations for any speaker’s toolbox.

Tools and Resources for Your Toolbox

  • Print out your PowerPoint™ presentation. Print your slides (either 3 or 6 to a page) just in case of an emergency. If for any reason you don’t have access to your laptop you will still be able to give the presentation.
  • Charge all batteries. Make sure you have an extra battery for your remote. If you are running your laptop on battery power, make sure you have an extra one.
  • Have the right remote for the right room. When you purchase your remote make sure to get one that works for the size room you will be speaking in. When you’re presenting up front you may not have the need for distance, but if you are a facilitator and like to work the room, you may be standing too far away for your remote to work. Each remote has different distances—standard is 20-40 feet, and you may need 100 feet.
  • Know your venue. Have a sheet with all pertinent contact info for the venue where you are speaking. Include your contact’s name and cell phone number, the venue address, and room name.
  • Take a clock. Bring a small watch or travel clock you can place on the podium or other nearby table or surface. While you don’t want to look at the time continually, you do want to casually check the time every so often to ensure you’re staying on track.

Wellness Tips for Your Toolbox

  • Get eight hours of sleep. Getting plenty of sleep the night before a major presentation will keep you mentally sharp and physically strong. Studies from the National Sleep Foundation show that people who are sleep deprived have more trouble performing math calculations, have impaired physical performance, and have more difficulty retaining information. Getting between 7 and 8 hours of sleep prior to presenting will positively impact your performance.
  • Drink plenty of water. Drinking lots of water (at least half of your body weight in ounces) will keep you feeling refreshed and relaxed. Since stress contributes to dehydration, any time you feel stressed (such as when giving a presentation) you need to drink more water than usual.
  • Stay fortified. Eat a well balanced diet rich in good protein sources and consume plenty of vegetables and fruits. Avoid high carbohydrate foods like pasta, breads, and sweets before you give a presentation. These foods will make you sleepy and reduce your concentration.
  • Take ‘Rescue Remedy.’ If you are highly susceptible to nervous tension, pack Rescue Remedy in your toolkit. Rescue Remedy is a Bach flower tincture that can be found in any health food store. Place two or three drops in an ounce of warm water and sip it slowly. Most people find that it has a relaxing effect on your nerves.
  • Avoid caffeine. While caffeine can be stimulating and help you feel temporarily energized for the presentation, it can also backfire and cause unwanted anxiety. Too much caffeine can take its toll on the nervous system over time, and speakers need calm nerves and sharp mental acuity to deliver a winning presentation.

The better prepared you are for any presentation, the more effective your speech will be. So take the time to pack your toolbox items; you’ll stand out and impress your audience.

September 26th, 2012 | Permalink | Trackback | Bookmark and Share

6 Responses to Prepare Your Speaker’s Toolbox

  1. Cyndee Bowen, SLP

    Excellent guidelines for anyone preparing for any type of presentation. It never hurts to be reminded of these basics. I’m adding this article to my toolbox! Thanks!

  2. Simon Raybould

    Nice list. I’d not worry about a clock too much though as your slide software has a “presenter view” which will show times and timings to the presenter (only) - I find it very handy for notes occasionally, too.

  3. Richard I. Garber


    Excellent advice, except I’d skip the Rescue Remedy and instead just pack a container of Tic Tacs. There’s no good evidence that Rescue Remedy really helps:


  4. Angela

    Thanks, Simon. You’re right about the clock though sometimes when I’m teaching I like having it sitting right in front of me so I don’t lose track of group activities. I have the clock and timer on my iPhone too but haven’t gotten used to using it-just too old school I guess!

  5. Sheri Bennefeld

    Great toolbox Angela! I think a lot of presenters forget about the wellness side of preparation. Another thing I would add, if you have video embedded in your slides - I always save a copy of the video to disk as well. That way if my computer crashes I can always run it from another source.

  6. Darren Fleming

    Nice toolbox you have there, I might borrow some of your points in my college presentations, another great way, apart from your point of view, is to be your own motivational speaker, to ask yourself questions that you need to answer before starting the presentations, just after your toolbox. :) Questions like “What is my intent with this presentation?” or “How would I make this presentation if I knew this would be my last one”

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