After 30 years as a Professional Speaker, I presented a two-day Guerrilla Selling seminar recently in Nairobi, Kenya, where I was reminded of the importance of being self-sufficient on the road. Africa is like a whole other country, and it’s hard to find stuff. The same could be said of Lincoln, Nebraska. Every Professional speaker should take responsibility for their own comfort and equipment, and always be prepared for the inevitable catastrophe.
The Professional Speaker’s Gig bag should contain:
- Your laptop computer
- A dedicated power supply that stays in your bag. (I recommend the universal Targus AC70U.) Leave the factory version at your desk. That way you’ll never make the mistake of forgetting to pack it. And you won’t be too disappointed when you leave the universal one behind at a venue. You can always get another at Staples.
- Your own PowerPoint controller (I highly recommend the Logitech Professional Presenter R800, which includes a green laser and a cool timer that vibrates to tell you when to shut the hell up.)
- A small portable mouse (a cheap one works fine; you won’t be using it that much.)
- Copy of your install disk for Microsoft Office for when you’re sitting in a FedEx Kinko’s at 2:00 AM and need that obscure printer driver.
- A 4 gig flash drive for backing up your presentation, and another for using sneakernet to transport it between platforms. Better still, carry an extra backup in your pocket or purse. It will save your show when your laptop dies or is stolen out of the meeting room while you pee.
- Portable travel alarm clock with a display that you can read from across the stage. (Try the free iPhone app NightTime for its big red-number display.)
- Portable digital thermometer, to settle the argument between the hotel engineer and the whining guest who insists it’s too cold.
- Fully loaded iPod, with royalty-free music that you can play during walk-in and breaks in your program, plus news podcasts, a movie and a favorite TV show or two.
- iPod/iPhone USB connector cord and AC adapter/charger
- A spare pair of Apple earbuds so you can listen on the plane
- A stereo 1/8″ (mini) phone to 2 mono 1/4″ phone send return (insert) cable so you can plug the iPod directly into the sound system (write it down and ask the geek at Radio Shack).
- Noise canceling headphones (I highly recommend the Bose Quiet Comfort 15’s. They sound great, and are a great comfort when stuck on a plane next to the inconsolably crying baby.)
- Three or four spare AAA batteries to power your remote and headphones.
- Package of 2 spare Duracell 12V batteries for the wireless mics, even when the hotel supplies them. When they go dead, it’s always in the middle of your show.
- Package of Halls Honey Lemon Cough Drops (the Cherry ones make your tongue look weird)
- Pack of chewable Pepto Bismo tablets
- Package of Imodium AD (for when the Pepto Bismo doesn’t help)
- Melatonin tablets. The absolute best herbal remedy for jet lag. Take two an hour or two before sleepytime.
- Blindfold (for airplane sleepytime. Also handy for terminating unwanted conversations with annoying seatmates.) You can buy them in most airport shops, but they hand these out free in first class, so ask the cabin crew for one on your next long haul.
- Copy of your room setup instructions. The hotel will have lost the one you sent ahead. Trust me on this. And carry a version in Spanish, for when you’re working in a Latin American city like Los Angeles or Miami.
- Copy of your standard introduction, printed in 24 point type. Your introducer will have forgotten the one you sent ahead. Trust me on this too.
- Color copy of your passport (and applicable visas)
- Color copy of your drivers license (enlarged 2x)
- A crisp $100 bill (series 2000 or later; some overseas hotels won’t accept the older ones). Hide it in a zippered pocket of your computer bag. This can bail you out of a lot of trouble almost anywhere in the world.
- $100 in 20s for tipping the hotel housemen when you have ask them to reset the whole meeting room classroom style instead of rounds.
All this, and more, fits neatly in my IBM Thinkpad’s little backback. Not only has it saved my skin, but it’s rescued more than my share of other speakers as well.