A Public Speaker's Checklist – Free PDF File

I am happy to provide you with a comprehensive public speaker’s checklist for logistical matters.

Last year I wrote a post about logistical items that speakers should remember for a speaking engagement. Reader response was so good that I created an addendum.

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.

You can download the file below.

The checklist is restricted to matters of a logistical nature. It is designed to be comprehensive, but you will not need each item, every time. And even though your host will likely have many of the items, it is always a good to have back-ups.

Some of the items on the list might seem obvious and common sense. For example, of course you will know where to park your car. Well, I have heard stories about speakers who drive to a hotel in an unfamiliar city. They cannot figure out where to park and time ticks by and they end up being late.

In life, the little things are little things right up until the moment they become big things! I hope that this public speaker’s checklist will help you avoid unnecessary problems. Please share it with your friends and colleagues.

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  1. Great tool, thank you for sharing. It is simple, but so much goes wrong in the simple details… I’m with Patricia… will add this to my resources page… (after I create the resources page 😉 )

    1. Thanks, Conor, much appreciated. You are spot on about the “simple details” which too often end up being anything but! Glad that you find the tool useful. I will continue to refine it as I get new ideas.

    1. Thanks very much for sharing it with your readers, Clare. Delighted that the list will be on ChangeWorks. Even more delighted that you will never again forget the extension cable!

  2. Good job, John.
    Please add special considerations for the hard of hearing people in your audience. Make sure the facility has tested the Assistive Listening Devices, offer CART (Live Captioning) or extra mics. Accessibility laws compliance is good business.

      1. We would like to say hi also from the CCAC (Martha is a member :-). The CCAC is an international all volunteer group to advocate for inclusion of quality captioning universally, and many organizing public speaking events are not aware of the issue – one in seven people globally have a hearing loss or are deaf or have acquired deafness over the years. That’s a significant number, 1/7, and the CCAC aims to help anyone find ways to include real time speech-to-text translation (projected on a screen for an audience). Thanks for listening, and keep up the good work, in Suisse, or wherever!
        LS/CCAC, http://www.ccacaptioning.org – We welcome all who support our mission, hearing or not, deaf or not.

        1. Many thanks for the additional information and congratulations on the great work that you are doing. I encourage people to check out your website above and I will make a point of tweeting it to others.
          Best of luck with your important mission.

  3. Thank you for posting this. It is a useful tool for orgainzers of speaking events as well. I will send it out to speakers that we are contracting if they are not seasoned public speakers. I will also share it with my undergraduate and graduate student staff in the new programming manual I am creating to assist them with learning the art of event/programming organizing (to help them be mindful of the needs of the scholars, artists and performers that we contract). Also, I will also share it with students that I mentor who are learning the art of public speaking at symposiums and conferences as part of my student development/career development initiative.
    J. Vincent
    UMASS Amherst

  4. You could also do one in reverse … how many times have I left the venue with my laptop but with the extension cable still in the power socket … I could probably do a half hour presentation on that subject alone …

    1. Thanks, Philip. It’s a common occurrence. You’re so focused on the presentation and making sure that everything is in place, that when it is over you’re usually at least a little bit tired. And that’s when you forget things. What you can do is go through the list again and make sure that all the objects that have been checked have been collected.

  5. Thanks John. Very helpful. Will share. Do you have another one for traveling presenters? 🙂

    1. Thank you, Velva. Much appreciated. I don’t have a specific list for traveling presenters; however, many of the items in the PDF will be relevant for those who have to travel to give presentations.

  6. John, this is a great checklist. As a professional singer, I’d like to pass on a singer’s tip and ask you to think about one of the checklist items – the cold water. Vocal cords are muscles. So are your articulators – tongue and lips. Drinking cold water before and while speaking is like soaking your legs in cold water before you run. Room temperature water will leave your vocal cords and articulators supple and ready to go.

    1. Janet, thanks so much for the tip. Duly noted. It’s funny, but earlier this week and acupuncturist told me that drinking room temperature water is easier on the stomach than cold water. What you say makes perfect sense. As a long distance cyclist, I have experienced many long rides on hot days when cold water was much desired for rehydration and to keep my core temperature down. I suspect that may have tainted (fitting word) my approach to water.

  7. John,
    Thank you again for sharing your checklist for public speaking. It’s been an invaluable tool, and I’ve enjoyed passing this along to others. I’m a huge list person. It’s especially helpful for me as I move from teaching preschoolers (pretty low tech, lots of crayons, scissors and glue!) to a coaching career, this puts me right into my organizational comfort zone.

    1. Thank you, Denise. Glad you like the checklist and thanks for passing it on. Best of luck with the career shift! (But keep the crayons, I like the idea of getting people back to when they were children.)

  8. Thank you for sharing. It is very useful for me, a new worker, graduated from school this year. I am Chinese, I will add this resource on my Chinese website to share with my friends.

    Thank you very much, John.

    1. Thank you for the comment, Esther. Xie xie! Thank you also for sharing the checklist with your friends; I am glad that your find it useful. Congratulations on your graduation. I wish you much success with your work. I very much hope to be able to travel to China one day to visit your country.

  9. Thanks for the checklist. I just tweeted about it. I will add it to my website, blog and send it out to fellow Toastmasters.

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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