A Public Speaker's Checklist

As public speakers, we should be focused on our audience and the material. The last thing we want is to be distracted because we’ve overlooked a logistical detail. Set out below is checklist of 50 things that public speakers need to remember before speaking.

A few things to note about the list:

  • It is restricted to matters of a logistical nature. A separate list would be needed for things to remember about the speech or presentation itself.
  • The list is designed to be comprehensive. It is unlikely that you will need to remember every single item each time you speak.
  • Your host will probably have many of the items. However, even when I am told that certain equipment and material will be available, I still bring along some back-ups. If I do not need them, so much the better, but I’m happy to have the extra insurance. And it has saved me on more than one occasion.

A Public Speaker’s Checklist

  1. Location of, and directions to, the venue.
  2. Date and time of the presentation.
  3. Estimation of time to get to the venue (accounting for traffic at that time of day).
  4. Full tank of gas, if driving.
  5. Location of nearest parking lot.
  6. Bus pass / métro pass or change for fare if taking public transportation.
  7. Up-to-date bus / métro schedule if taking public transportation.
  8. Location of nearest bus / métro stop.
  9. Money for taxi.
  10. Local currency, if in a foreign country.
  11. Passport, if in a foreign country.
  12. Telephone numbers of contacts at the venue.
  13. Cell phone (fully charged).
  14. Watch or other timing device.
  15. Eyeglasses, especially as a back-up if you wear contact lenses.
  16. Eyeglasses cleaner.
  17. Eyedrops.
  18. Laptop computer.
  19. Laptop power cable.
  20. Soundcheck of microphone and sound system at the venue.
  21. Small speakers as back-up if your presentation has sound.
  22. Multi-socket electric power bar.
  23. Converter plugs for electrical equipment if speaking in a foreign country.
  24. For Mac users, an adapter to enable you to connect your computer to a beamer. The standard one is the Mini Display Port to VGA Adapter, but there are others, so be sure that you have the right one.
  25. USB with back-up copy of presentation. (NB: For Mac users, if your presentation is on Keynote and your computer freezes, Keynote will not work on a PC. Consider having a PowerPoint version as well, if practicable.)
  26. Remote control for your slide presentation.
  27. Extra batteries for your remote control.
  28. Speaking notes, if needed.
  29. Hard copy of presentation slides (or key ones) in case equipment fails.
  30. Hard copy of thumb nails of slides for quick reference.
  31. Written introduction for the person introducing you to the audience.
  32. Props.
  33. Coloured markers for a flip chart.
  34. Coloured markers for a white board.
  35. Notepad.
  36. Pens / Pencils / Highlighters.
  37. Post-It Notes.
  38. Reference material. If you get a question at the end of the presentation and do not know the answer, you might be able to find it after the session and speak to the person who asked the question.
  39. Background material from your host (programme, list of participants, etc.)
  40. Handouts related to the presentation.
  41. Promotional material for your company / organization.
  42. Samples.
  43. Business cards.
  44. Small bottle of water.
  45. Bananas or other preferred energy food.
  46. Aspirin or other medication if needed.
  47. Spare shirt and tie or blouse if giving a speech after a meal. (You never know when you are going to spill something.)
  48. Umbrella.
  49. Video camera and stand if filming yourself.
  50. A positive frame of mind! Even though you have lots to remember, don’t let it detract from your commitment to be fully engaged with your audience.

So there you go, a whole bunch of things to remember for your next presentation. But there could well be more. What have I overlooked? Please comment and add to the list for the benefit of others.


Many people have kindly taken up my offer to add their own ideas to the list. So that we can all benefit from these ideas, I have created an addendum to the the Public Speaker’s Checklist which you can read here.


To put these ideas into a more practical format for you, I have reworked the checklist into a single-page PDF file. Items are grouped by category and there is space for you to add your own. As well, there is space at the bottom to add the title of your presentation, your audience, the venue and date of the presentation.

To get your copy of the Public Speaker’s Checklist, please click here.

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  1. Hi John

    Only 50? I must admit that I’m paranoid when it comes to checking details. I’m totally with you John – write out your list and check them off one by one by one.
    In the old days I would have added… spare bulb for the projector but most of your readers won’t know what a projector is. LOL

    1. That the thing with lists, Keith – you can slice them and dice them pretty much any way you want. If a given speaker’s list only has 15 things and it works for her, then more power to her.
      Thanks for the commment.

  2. I have a digitech slide advancer with a timer on it. Even though I typically do the same presentations over and over again, I like to take questions from smaller audiences. The timer really helps keep me on track! And it is less obvious than me checking my watch.

  3. This comment would be for those who are experienced Toastmasters, speaking outside the club, but still working on their educational/leadership goals. Have another Toastmaster evaluate your speech.

    1. Hi Monika,
      Good one! As a man, this is clearly something that is off my radar, so thanks for adding it. I can see how spare nylons (tights) could be very important.

    1. That’s a good one, Bart. Thanks for sharing it. A speaker should always try to find out as much as possible about his or her audience in advance. Having a standard form is a great idea. Of course, each speaking opportunity will present its own unique set of issues, but there are certain common issues that will be relevant for all occasions.

    1. Gracias, Martiña! A great suggestion for the list. (And one that I should have added, given that I have done lots of speaking in the Middle East with simultaneous interpretation.) Another thing to add would be notes or a glossary of terms for the interpreters so that they can be sure to convey the right words.
      Thanks again!

  4. That’s great material, thank you!
    I often bring my own technician, which takes away a lot of points on this list and gives me more focus on the presentation. He takes care of the slides, the spare batteries etcetera

  5. But above all of this, if you have to give a presentation, is the most important thing to make contact with your audience first. Because contact always precedes contract. Don’t forget that when you see this entire list of techniques. Stand on the stage, in the natural center, as a natural leader, look at your audience, breathe in, breathe out, smile and make contact. Good luck!

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John delivered a keynote address about the importance of public speaking to 80 senior members of Gore’s Medical Device Europe team at an important sales event. He was informative, engaging and inspirational. Everyone was motivated to improve their public speaking skills. Following his keynote, John has led public speaking workshops for Gore in Barcelona and Munich. He is an outstanding speaker who thinks carefully about the needs of his audience well before he steps on stage.

Karsta Goetze

TA Leader, Gore and Associates

I first got in touch with John while preparing to speak at TED Global about my work on ProtonMail. John helped me to sharpen the presentation and get on point faster, making the talk more focused and impactful. My speech was very well received, has since reached almost 1.8 million people and was successful in explaining a complex subject (email encryption) to a general audience.

Andy Yen

CEO, Proton Technologies

John gave the opening keynote on the second day of our unit’s recent offsite in Geneva, addressing an audience of 100+ attendees with a wealth of tips and techniques to deliver powerful, memorable presentations. I applied some of these techniques the very next week in an internal presentation, and I’ve been asked to give that presentation again to senior management, which has NEVER happened before. John is one of the greatest speakers I know and I can recommend his services without reservation.

David Lindelöf

Senior Data Scientist, Expedia Group

After a morning of team building activities using improvisation as the conduit, John came on stage to close the staff event which was organised in Chamonix, France. His energy and presence were immediately felt by all the members of staff. The work put into the preparation of his speech was evident and by sharing some his own stories, he was able to conduct a closing inspirational speech which was relevant, powerful and impactful for all at IRU. The whole team left feeling engaged and motivated to tackle the 2019 objectives ahead. Thank you, John.

Umberto de Pretto

Secretary General, World Road Transport Organization

I was expecting a few speaking tips and tricks and a few fun exercises, but you went above and beyond – and sideways. You taught me to stand tall. You taught me to anchor myself. You taught me to breathe. You taught me to open up. You taught me to look people in the eye. You taught me to tell the truth. You taught me to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. I got more than I bargained for in the best possible way.

Thuy Khoc-Bilon

World Cancer Day Campaign Manager, Union for International Cancer Control

John gave a brilliant presentation on public speaking during the UN EMERGE programme in Geneva (a two days workshop on leadership development for a group of female staff members working in the UN organizations in Geneva). His talk was inspirational and practical, thanks to the many techniques and tips he shared with the audience. His teaching can dramatically change our public speaking performance and enable us as presenters to have a real and powerful impact. Thank you, John, for your great contribution!

Sara Canna

HR Specialist, World Health Organization

John is a genuine communication innovator. His seminars on gamification of public speaking learning and his interactive Rhetoric game at our conference set the tone for change and improvement in our organisation. The quality of his input, the impact he made with his audience and his effortlessly engaging style made it easy to get on board with his core messages and won over some delegates who were extremely skeptical as to the efficacy of games for learning. I simply cannot recommend him highly enough.

Thomas Scott

National Education Director, Association of Speakers Clubs UK

John joined our Global Sales Meeting in Segovia, Spain and we all participated in his "Improv(e) your Work!" session. I say “all” because it really was all interactive, participatory, learning and enjoyable. The session surprised everybody and was a fresh-air activity that brought a lot of self-reflection and insights to improve trust and confidence in each other inside our team. It´s all about communication and a good manner of speaking!"

Jon Lopez

General Manager Europe, Hayward Industries

Thank you very much for the excellent presentation skills session. The feedback I received was very positive. Everyone enjoyed the good mix of listening to your speech, co-developing a concrete take-away and the personal learning experience. We all feel more devoted to the task ahead, more able to succeed and an elevated team spirit. Delivering this in a short time, both in session and in preparation, is outstanding!

Henning Dehler

CFO European Dairy Supply Chain & Operations, Danone

Thanks to John’s excellent workshop, I have learned many important tips and techniques to become an effective public speaker. John is a fantastic speaker and teacher, with extensive knowledge of the field. His workshop was a great experience and has proven extremely useful for me in my professional and personal life.

Eric Thuillard

Senior Sales Manager, Sunrise Communications

John’s presentation skills training was a terrific investment of my time. I increased my skills in this important area and feel more comfortable when speaking to an audience. John provided the right mix between theory and practice.

Diego Brait

Director of the Jura Region, BKW Energie AG

Be BOLD. Those two words got stuck in my head and in the heads of all those ADP leaders and associates that had the privilege to see John on stage. He was our keynote speaker at our annual convention in Barcelona, and his message still remains! John puts his heart in every word. Few speakers are so credible, humble and yet super strong with large audiences!

Guadalupe Garcia

Senior Director and Talent Partner, ADP International