I’ve been a technical speaker for more than ten years and have had my share of successes, failures, and oh crap moments. Over the past few years, my job has moved me into a position where I help to plan the content for several major technical conferences and I support the folks presenting at my events. This week, my friend Kendra asked me for advice regarding what to bring to support speakers at the first event she is managing and I thought it would be great to share those tips with everyone so that we all can have successful events.
Behind all the great speakers and events that you attend are an amazing staff that have been working for many months on the event. For the Microsoft MVP and Ignite events, I have worked a minimum of 6 months to plan and ensure amazing content is delivered for those conferences. The key part of that delivery, is the preparation and assistance provided to the speakers on-site with the speakers. The event staff try to have everything available that a speaker could need to ensure their work over those months reflects well on the attendees.
The contents and recommendations I’m imparting here are influenced by folks that I have worked with at many events, and mostly by the godfather of speaker support: Gary Brothers. Gary currently helps lead the DevIntersection events and does an amazing job during the event to ensure that speakers are comfortable and have everything they need. If you attend one of these conferences, be sure to say thanks to Gary and his team for helping your favorite speakers.
Here’s a list of what I have, starting from the top-left of the picture:
- Lenovo Yoga laptop – laptops crash and break, having a spare machine that a speaker can borrow is an amazing resource
- USB-C power adapter – needed for the laptop
- USB Drive / Pen – Pens are a must for quick notes, this one has a 2GB USB stick in the back. USB drives are handy when speakers need to push huge amounts of data around and the conference center wireless network isn’t performing well
- 2 Logitech presenter wands – speakers have the freedom to walk and present with these. I prefer the R800 with green laser and timer built in. Why 2? One for me if I’m speaking and one to loan. I change the batteries on these once a year, and its plenty of power.
- USB “wall-wart” – you always need to charge SOMETHING with USB. This is from my iPhone and works fine for my mouse, watch, airpods, and any other USB powered device
- Decongestant – No one likes to listen to a speaker with a cold. Worse yet, a congested speaker that has phlegm. Yuck!
- 2 USB-C multi-adapters – USB-C is the new standard for laptop connections. The Lenovo Yoga pictured and the latest MacBooks use USB-C. My adapters pictured have been discontinued, but the link is a good device. Be sure to get one that supports network, HDMI, pass-through power, and USB-A
- 2 Mini-Displayport multi-adapters – Mini-Displayport is the standard connection from older Surface devices and MacBooks
- 1 USB-A VGA multi-adapter – everyone has USB-A and this adapter will provide network, VGA, and an additional USB-A port
- A wired USB mouse – don’t rely on battery power and fumbling with connectors or bluetooth connectivity. This is reliable and should work with any laptop
- International power multi-adapter – I’ve gotta thank the boss for this one, as it adapts from any international power connector to any other nation’s power. You never know if your international speakers have their power converter to your country’s power.
- Water bottles – cheap, easy, and a must. Speakers will get dry-mouth when talking for an hour.
I’ve had great success with these adapters and supporting speakers all over the States. What do you have in your bag to support other speakers?