While back in the US for I've had many opportunities to travel and speak about our work in Kosovo. That involved both weekend trips and extended 6-9 week trips on the road; I've noticed that Mr. Murphy likes to tag along. How do you deal with him?
Pamela Slim offers a great example of what can go right and wrong with speaking engagements. She's come up with a list of does and don't to help harried business presenters on the road. Her list grew out of her own inner obsessive-compulsive, but she has some good tips for us too.
What about you? What are your tips, hacks and hints for extended speaking trips on the road? Here are a couple of mine:
- Backup everything, and keep your back ups with you. Call me anal, but I kept three redundant back-ups of all my PowerPoint presentations and speaking notes with with me.
- The first back-up is to the 2GB SD card that lives in my laptop. Twice a day it backs up all my current project files, contact information, PowerPoints and messages to the SD card.
- The second was to the 2GB SD card that lives in my Treo 650. I backed this up once or twice a week or whenever I thought about it. My first backup would save me if my computer croaked (which it did once). This backup would save me if my computer got ripped off or "lost." This may sounds like a pain, but my backup software is configured to do this automatically whenever I stick either SD card into the laptop.
- Backup to a DVD kept in my suitcase. This copy was only refreshed a couple of times, but it contained the baseline PowerPoint decks and talks. I wasn't religious about backing it up, but it was always there if I needed it.
- A USB adapter for getting your cleverly backed-up data off your SD card and into someone else's computer. Believe it or not, though I back up everything as outlined above, I never thought to buy a $9 USB adapter to stick the SD card into...not until it was a too late.
- Always carry an extension cord. The first time someone needs to plug in an overhead projector, guitar amp or lava lamp in addition to the data projector you're out of luck. Churches have an amazing array of stuff stuffed into every nook & cranny and plugged into every jack and splitter in a church auditorium. BYOP...bring your own power.
- A tap, plug splitter or "guz-inta" (as in "this goes into that"). You won't need this in churches too much, but the next time you're waiting in an airport terminal, Panera, Starbucks or coffee shop you'll be trying to find a plug along with all the other folks on the road. Carry a splitter with you and allow not only yourself, but 3-4 new friends access to electricity too.
- Sound cables
- 1/8"-1/8" phono cord. This is the cord that goes from the headphone jack in your laptop to the audio input on a projector (or with a 1/4" adapter, into the church sound board). Only one of the churches I traveled in had one of these laying around.
- 1/8" phono cord to RCA stereo. Ditto the above and for a similar application.
- Remote and extra batteries. I travel with my own PowerPoint remote control. They're not expensive and it's easier to use one you're familiar with than to rely on someone else's. In one church I used one of those cordless gyroscope mice because mine wouldn't work. It worked by moving the mouse through the air. It worked fine, but I wasn't accustomed to it. I think I looked a lot like a mime doing the "stuck in the box" routine in front of the audience. Always pack extra batteries and, unless your remote has an on/off switch, carry it in your gear bag without the batteries in it. It's too easy for it to get pushed up against something else, draining your batteries right before you need them.
- Check and double check that you have the right notes and the right version of the notes for that group. I usually did a little research on the city I was speaking in to give the talk a little local color. Nothing's worse than getting up to speak with the wrong talk.
What do you keep in your gear bag when on a speaking tour? What items are on your checklist? Let's make a list together.