20 Things to Do After You Accept that Speaking Gig

A couple of years ago I wrote Nine Questions to Ask Before You Accept That Speaking Gig – (go read it, it’s full of great information!) this is a much overdue follow up.


1. Start working on your presentation now! Even if it is six months out, at least start taking notes!

2. Know yourself and your presentation style. Some people use a slide for every minute or two of speaking, some for 30 seconds or less.

3. Put together a good presentation. You were invited to be there, maybe even paid. Make sure your slides and the presentation are worthy. Practice your talk.

4. Find out what type of mic you’ll be using. This makes a huge difference, it may mean you are tied to a podium something that’s awkward for someone like me who moves around a lot while talking. Request your preferred mic if you can. Adjust your presentation if need be.

If you would like some tips on putting together a great presentation Ned Potter has put together great presentation with great suggestions.


5. Know how you’re getting from the hotel to the airport. I know someone who arrived at a small airport in a small town with limited access to taxies and there was no one there to pick him up – don’t let this happen to you. Sure it would be great if the organizer were on top of this, but trust me you want to take are of this yourself!

6. Know how you’re getting back to the airport and the time you need to be there and travel time. Especially if you’re flying out after your presentation. It can be easy to get caught up in answering questions or talking after you present, make sure you don’t miss your flight.

7. Know the amenities your hotel offers. Internet access, breakfast, gym, pool, room service – all matter especially if you’re there for more than one night. Use them.

8. Know your schedule. Know where you need to be and when. Know how you’ll get there.

9. Know when and how you are eating. Know if meals will be provided during the event. Will there be a breakfast before? An organized dinner that evening? Or the evening before? As a speaker I’m often invited to dinner the evening before and after, this gives me a chance to know the organizers and attendees better and have some great conversations!

10. Be budget conscious. If you are being reimbursed for travel, meals etc. be conscious of what you’re spending. Don’t park in the most expensive airport parking, don’t get a steak, don’t get the most expensive rental car, don’t check a bag unless you absolutely have to, don’t book the most expensive flight, you get the idea. You should have discussed what was covered in expenses before agreeing to speak but these are little extras that it’s nice to avoid.


11. Make a check list, especially if you’re just starting out.  Or even if you aren’t.

  • Computer and charger
  • Any necessary adapters
  • Presentation remote
  • Flash drive with presentation on it for back up
  • Extra batteries for your remote or mouse if you pack one.
  • Paper notes – if you’re using them
  • Back up battery to charge mobile or other devices
There are more packing and travel suggestions in this post, I’m not going to repeat all of them here but definitely worth a read.


12. Dress to impress. Yes, put on some nice clothes, professional attire. You’re being paid to be there, dress, and act like it. Leave the t-shirt and jeans at home, and the turtle neck and jeans, you’re not Steve Jobs.

13. Show up early – at least a half an hour early. If someone else is transporting you, insist they take you early. This will give you time to get set up, make sure your equipment works, make sure their equipment works and familiarize yourself with room.

14. Know the schedule of the day. Are you on first? Last? Somewhere in the middle? How will you keep track of time? You should have timed your presentation already but if you get started late or there are a lot of questions you’ll need to know the time.  I don’t wear a watch so I rely on my phone

15. Respect the time limitations – it’s not cool to steal time from other presenters.

16. Know your stuff.

17. Know it’s ok to say when you don’t know. Say something like – you know, I can’t answer that question off the top of my head but if you give me your contact information I’ll find out and get back to you. Then do exactly that.


18. Share your slides. This really depends on why and where and who you were presenting for and you. Some people don’t share their slides for a variety of reasons, this is up to you . However the organizer might request them as a pdf, or want them uploaded to slideshare and some places don’t want them public. You should have agreed on the terms when you accepted the gig.

19. Share any links, references or resources.  If you demoed sites or created any handouts make sure the organizer has that information. If you’re blogging add these there too.

20. Send a thank you. Choose your method but send one.

 Ok what did I forget, miss, and/or overlook? Let me know! 

More Tips

11 thoughts on “20 Things to Do After You Accept that Speaking Gig

  1. All good pieces of advice. I would add: Confirm with the organizer or your local host that there will be an AV or tech person on hand to assist you with the presentation setup if needed. Make sure your host knows all of your tech requirements up front – and if you’ll be using your own computer. I find that 80% of the time everything is straightforward and I can do the set up myself, but the other 20% there is a strange situation that requires some more expertise – or I don’t want to mess with their local set up. AND – if you have video embedded in your slides or plan to show video on the web, MAKE SURE IN ADVANCE THAT THE VENUE HAS A WORKING SOUND SYSTEM – and that there is an AV tech who can get the sound to work with your computer. I travel with a mini-speaker that is just powerful enough to get the job done just in case – or I can put the mic right up to it if needed.


    1. Great addition Steve! I don’t use videos in my presentations so I haven’t run into this issue yet.

      Great points about the AV. I have had some past issues with AV not being ready or having wonky set-ups in the past. I should have remembered that!


      1. Give some thought to adding some video content to your presentations – if there’s a fit. Not only does it give the audience a break from me, but i get a quick break for a sip of water and to figure out what’s next in the presentation. I also use video at the start of a presentation to tell a story or set the mood (e.g., a video about college students talking about their enormous student debt as a prelude to a talk about higher education issues) – and video can be a great way to present an issue for starting a discussion. More ideas on using video in presentations here http://bit.ly/OMt0DL . And stories…I think that’s something missing from Ned’s advice – great slides can help – but i’m moving in the direction of very few slides at all and more stories supplemented by video. But presenters should go with what works best for them and their audience. Thanks.


    1. Andromeda Thanks for sharing that one! Somehow I missed it! And I am totally with you on the graphically challenged! I’m always in awe of how amazing Ned’s presentations look! I’m starting to apply some of his techniques to mine, but they never look as good. 🙂


  2. Make sure that you have a CURRENT phone # for your local contact, just in case there are any last-minute emergencies. For that matter, make sure that you do have an assigned local contact.


  3. Our tech staff was impressed by the fact that you were able to do everything needed for your own tech set-up at NTLP’s TechNet conference last week, so that prompts me to suggest that you add to #13 something about being prepared to be self-sufficient in terms of setting up for you own tech needs. It helped very much to know that you were comfortable with setting up for yourself, and it gave them more time to assist speakers who use tech but aren’t comfortable setting it up for themselves. We were further impressed that you connected the other laptop when you disconnected your own, leaving the room ready for the next session leader. Thanks for doing a great job all-around!


    1. Hi dona
      I don’t even remember reconnecting the other laptop, must just be habit! 🙂 I’m glad I was able to free up staff to help people who needed it more. It is so hard to tell what technical expertise people will have on site that over the years I’ve found it best to know how to do almost everything.


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