But the more speaking gigs you get, the more likely things are to go wrong.
The audio system may malfunction, or you can't get your slides to display how you hoped. The more you speak, the more you learn to adapt on the fly when the unexpected happens, but the best way to ensure things go smoothly is to bring the right tools so you're never left having to wing it.
Here are some of the must-have tools every speaker should carry with them on presentation day.
1. USB Flash Drive
Many event organizers will request that you send your presentation materials ahead of time, but you never want to be left scrambling if a file gets corrupted, mislabeled, or can't be found. To avoid this, always bring a USB flash drive with your presentation; You can get these at a high capacity fairly cheaply. Before you leave, load your presentation up as a PowerPoint or Keynote file AND as a PDF (just in case!). This will allow you to quickly and easily hand over your presentation to the tech team by the stage, if the need arises.
2. Computer Display Adapters
Often times, a tech crew will be in place to manage the presentations, microphones, lighting and other elements in the room. But in some cases--particularly for company presentations, non-profits, schools and small events--you may just have to plug in your own laptop and run the presentation yourself. if this happens, be prepared by having the right kinds of computer adapters on hand. If you're not sure what the set-up will be, ensure you have HDMI, VGA, and other dongle adapters ready to go. Include Ethernet adapters and extension cords, too, if you presentation relies on websites or YouTube videos, as WiFi can sometimes be unreliable during big events.
3. Slide Advancer
Nobody wants to be tied to a podium, and a good presenter will move about the stage and gesture naturally as they speak. To ensure that you're able to stand wherever you're comfortable, bring your own slide advancer. These remote-control devices work by simply plugging into a USB port on the computer, and will allow you to remotely change slides or turn your screen black for emphasis, as you move about the space. Some even come with a laser pointer built in so you can highlight the most important points on your slide.
Other Helpful Items
While those three categories should protect you from some of the most common tech issues, here are some other helpful items you might want to consider, particularly if you're the planning type.
Apps: You can use plenty of apps to hone your public speaking skills. The clock app or a stopwatch will allow you to time your presentation in rehearsal to ensure you're pacing yourself well. Recording your rehearsal with your voice memo app will allow you to check your breath and tone.
Books: A life of speaking often means plenty of time on the road, and you may be looking for some reading materials to beef up your presentation skills. Consider taking (or better yet, downloading) Steal The Show, Talk Like TED, or The Storyteller's Secret.
With these gadgets, you'll be able to prevent most common presentation blunders, and with a few extra tools in tow, you can improve your skills, too.