What goes into my bag when presenting at an event or roadshow

When presenting at an event such as TechED, or any roadshow events you see your favorite presenters appear at, a lot of the skills, quality of the presentation comes down to:

- presentation skills

- content (which truly comes down to right content level, title, abstract, level of functioning demos and overall content balance)

- being a well prepared presenter


While I will share some thoughts on presentation skills  and content best practices later, I wanted to give you some insights on what goes into my bag when presenting at an event or roadshow tour, and highlight some of the few items and scenarios that I've run into in which my "laptop bag" came to the rescue.
Beware --- this is based on personal preferences, and yet I still try to keep my "luggage" to a strict minimum with maximum fault tolerance

Below is a picture and list of items:


Soothe-Aide, Non-Drowsy Multi-Symptom cold relief, Pain Killers, VGA cable / VGA to DVI converter / DVI , TO VGA,Wireless Router, 4G access point, mini screwdriver, duct-tape,backup laptop power supply, Portable Power Strip with USB charger,Set of batteries (AA,AAA and 9 volt),power converter / Adapter when traveling overseas, Windows Phone(unlocked), Cordless Presenter with timer, Wireless Keyboard and Mouse,Traveler kit with Network, USB cables, usb hub and mini mouse, usb stick with cellphone backup battery power, cellphone charger,SSD withcopy of presentations and VMs, USB stick with copy presentations, USB 3.0 diskwith copy of VMs and presentations. monitor wipes, pen, black permanent marker,
whiteboard marker,business cards.

Now on a first impression, I am pretty sure some of the readers of this blog will respond "WOW - seriously that's a lot - and I didn't even cover the fact that I am ofcourse also taking my laptops along.

One of the most useful items:

- Cordless presenter with timer (various vendors have different models):

key in being able to start your presentation, finish your presentation on time.

While a lot of the events have an on-stage timer, majority of them don't and as a presenter it's up to you to closely monitor your session timing.
Since the cordless presenter counts down, you know exactly when to start wrapping up your presentation or get into QA section if you planned for it.


I usually travel with a variety of the most common batteries for the occasion that:

- AV guy is not in the room and actually forgot to replace or check the batteries on your microphone for the session

- you forgot to power off the cordles presenter and now you can't time your session anymore because you ran out of batteries

- the wireless keyboard or mouse that you like to use while rehearsing your session in your hotel room ran out of batteries.

Display adapters

- Adapters are key: as a presenter it shoudl be a best practice to check the room days in advance or at least before in order to:

- review display resolution issues

- review the connections and that your laptop or demo machine correctly displays color schemes on the projection

- it never caught me by suprise but I've seen events where the video outputs are DVI and here I stand with my VGA output on  my laptop only (or vice versa).

wireless keyboard / mouse / VGA cable / wireless access point / 4G

In a lot of venues occassionally internet connection might not work, or you need to provide connectivity between 2 demo machines that you have.
The wireless accespoint that in my occasion at that point also functions as my DHCP server / switch provides me with that connectivity.

The VGA cable and wireless keyboard/mouse and my access point are primarily used at the hotel room, so I can take advantage of using the TV (those large flatscreens you get at some hotels) to be used as my primary monitor while sitting on the bed going through email, posting blogs, or looking at event scores and results.

The 4G access point provides me a cheaper and portable way to have internet connectivity rather than paying higher hotel rates.



As a presenter ... always have a backup, have a backup for your demos, your slides and anything else you want to show.

I've seen presenters SSD disks crash prior to keynotes, presentations not being uploaded onto the demo station, -- none of that should really happen.

I rely on having a copy of my primary demo virtual machine "in the cloud", as well as make sure that I have my presentation handed off to the event team in advance.

One of the other things I do --- have a copy of the VMs on a fast USB harddisk, in my case I ahve 2 copies, as well on external USB/e-sata and SSD. (allowing me to virtually booth from external e-sata on any machine).

In the picture you also see a mini screw driver that comes in very handy when having to swap out disks.

Not having a backup and having to "apoligize" to the audience (we drill more into that in a next blog on presentation skills) - will most likely have your session end in low scores or negative feedback


Windows Phone

My Windows Phone holds several songs that were "rated" for event usage, at some of the events I actually listen to some songs prior in order to "hype" myself up as a presenter, or calm down :)


Power Adapters / converter / Power Cord

I still remember my friend Paul blowing up a wireless router and some other tools when he visited my house in Belgium.
Having the right voltage when traveling overseas will be key,but also making sure you have the right adapter.
When traveling in the US I use a mini powercord that has a USB port to it, so I can charge my cellphone from the same port.

At airports, other people certainly like it that you can now share that 1 single powerplug that everyone was waiting on.


While I seldom need any form of medications, I want to be prepared in case I would have a headache or symptoms of getting a cold, especially when being on the road with a lot of travel, I make sure I have something in my bag.
Soothe Aid (or even Halls or any other brand), that can soften that rough throat will certainly make things easier for you if you haven't presented in a while and all of a sudden your voice starts acting or giving up on you.



Being prepared is key to the event and to your session - if you are a presenter, I hope this blog was useful, gives you some thoughts on what to think about.

Now of course I would love to hear from all of you what is missing or things that you travel with when you are going.

The audience truly deservers the best of their presenters.

In a future blog I will point to some of the presentation skills training and preperation, provide some tips on what to do / what not do do.



The items listed in this blog are pure personal preferences, and items that I consider to be important in preperation to presentations that I run at many events. They don't reflect any guidance or recommendations from my employer.
As Track Owner for events such as TechED and some of the events I presented at myself (SQL Server Special Ops Tour 2012), and having presented to an international audience with over 15,000 attendees so far, these insights are only
for the purpose of sharing and pitching some ideas.