Checklist for a Successful Public Speaking Gig

If you’ve spent any time at all doing public speaking gigs then chances are that you’re well aware of how important it is to ensure you’ve got all of the essentials covered. If nothing else, it means that you won’t worry that you’ve forgotten something. You need to be organized to be able to devote all of your attention to your speaking gig.

And so with that in mind, we’ve put our heads together and created this checklist that every public speaker needs if they want to guarantee that they’re giving their best possible performances. Let’s dive in and take a look.

1. Backups

One of the biggest mistakes that newbie public speakers make is failing to create backups of their presentations. This is a good idea in general and is a huge safeguard when you’re creating a presentation as it means you can roll back to an earlier version if your file gets corrupted or you need to undo some changes. Most modern writing software includes version control, but saving backups will give you that belt and braces confidence. It’s even more important when you’re heading off to the venue. Storing your files in Dropbox or similar is a good idea, but it’s also worth taking your presentation on a couple of flash drives in case there’s no internet connection.2. Handouts

If you’re planning on handing out any materials to your attendees, make sure that you remember to prepare them in time to be printed if necessary, and to have spare copies with you as well as access to an online copy. You never know when extra people might show up at the last minute or when someone might spill their coffee and need another one.

3. A change of clothes

Speaking of spilled coffee, it’s also worth taking a change of clothes with you, just in case. It’s all about redundancy and making sure that you’re covered (literally in this case) if something goes wrong. The last thing that you want is to be tucking into a free doughnut at a conference and to end up spilling jam down your shirt. Taking a change of clothes means you won’t spend the hour on the run up to your talk hunting for a nearby clothes shop or desperately dabbing at the stains on your clothes.

4. Spare batteries and chargers

Chances are that you’re using some sort of technology as part of your talk, whether that’s a laser pointer or a laptop computer. Where possible, ensure that you have spare batteries for all of your gadgets and that they’re fully charged, and if you may not be able to charge the battery on your laptop from the mains, get yourself a portable charger. Come to think of it, get one of those anyway for your smartphone and other peripherals.

5. Emergency contacts

Make sure that you have a record of the emergency contact numbers for the event organizers. We’d recommend keeping both a copy on your smartphone and a physical copy in your wallet, so if something goes wrong or you have an important question, you can get in touch with them.

6. Business cards

This might seem like an obvious one, but you’d be surprised at how often people forget to make sure that they have enough business cards. You’ll want to take more than you think you’re likely to need so that if things go well and you make a lot of contacts, you still have more than enough to go around.

7. Bottles of water

Packing a few bottles of water will help you ensure that you’re well hydrated before, during, and after your talk. If you don’t pay attention to hydration, your mind will be sluggish and you risk losing your voice in the middle of an important conversation, which is embarrassing at best, and is actively damaging when you’re trying to make a good impression. If you’re flying internationally, make a point of buying some bottled water once you land.

8. Eyeglasses and medication

If you wear glasses, be sure to take a spare pair. If you take medication, make sure that you’ve got enough to see you through to the end of the event or trip, preferably with a couple of days of wiggle room. If you are to perform at your best, it’s essential to prepare every aspect, and that includes being able to read or find your way around, and not running out of the essentials.

9. Pens and a notebook

This might seem more like something that should be recommended to attendees instead of speakers, but it’s always a good idea to have them handy. You can use them to jot down notes as well as feedback from the audience after your session, and it can also help you to look busy and attentive when you’re watching other speakers. In panel discussions, you can note down questions or areas that you want to address when the mic reaches you, or take a look at when you’re back in the office.

10. Tickets and instructions

If you’ve been sent tickets, instructions, or physical passes for the event, be sure to take them with you. True, if you’re one of the speakers then they’re going to know who you are and will still let you in, but it’s never a good look if you forget them. Directions can be particularly useful, especially if you’re going to a venue that you’ve not visited before.


Now that you’ve seen our list of essentials for a successful public speaking gig, we want to hear from you. What goes on to your checklist, and have you ever been caught out because you were missing something that you were reliant on?

As always, be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments so that we can keep the discussion going. You can also check back often and follow us on your social networking sites of choice for further updates. We’ll see you soon!

This was originally posted on SpeakerHub Skillcamp.



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