You spill ketchup on your dress pants on the way to the event. You come down with a bad cold right before you have to speak. The church can’t use your USB drive with your Powerpoint, and now you’re stuck.
Every speaker needs an emergency kit–things that you take with you so that if trouble comes, you’re still able to climb up on that stage and give your talk, without the audience being any the wiser!
I divide my emergency kit into three parts: health; appearance; and notes. Let’s look at it:
Health Emergency Kit
Always have on hand for emergencies some Halls, some throat lozenges, some Tylenol or Advil, some decongestants, some antihistamines, and some muscle relaxants (in case you get a major backache from all the travel).
Don’t like carrying bottles of all of this stuff? No worries! Just buy one of those weekly pill dispensers and label it and fill it up, labelling each container. You’re unlikely to need more than 4 or 5 pills of any one thing (except perhaps Advil), so this way you have your medicine chest with you without taking along too much!
Does this seem like overkill? The only time I ever throw my back out, it seems, is when I’m speaking. I’d never think to bring muscle relaxants with me normally, but if my back is hurting, I can’t stand. And antihistamines? If you’re traveling away from home, they’re necessary, because while your allergies may not be bad at home, if you go to a different environment, your body may suddenly find something it doesn’t like!
My nose doesn’t like airplanes. I never used to carry Kleenex with me anywhere because it wasn’t an issue. But get me on an airplane (especially when we start the descent for some reason) and I start sniffling and sneezing like crazy. And then everyone around me is scared I have the plague or something.
So I’ve started carrying a bunch of Kleenex in my purse for such occasions.
And pads/tampons? Always have them. You never know. ‘Nuff said.
If you’re battling a cold, eucalyptus oil can help open you right up. You can sit in your room at night, boil some water in the coffee maker, and then put a few drops of eucalyptus oil in it. Put a towel over your head and breathe in. It smells delicious, and it will help clear you out.
4. Sleeping Pills
I never take sleeping pills at home. Ever. But I don’t react to time changes well, and when I’m crossing time zones, plus sleeping in a strange place where there are often strange noises, I often DON’T sleep. So I’ve learned to bring along some emergency sleeping pills just in case.
Speaking of sleeping, you never know what noise you’ll be hit with. Sometimes they’ll have you room with someone who snores. Sometimes there will be noise outside your room–or even INSIDE your room if the heating/air conditioning unit is too loud. So put a pair of earplugs in your suitcase, too!
Appearance Emergency Kit
1. An Alternate Outfit
If I’m driving to an engagement I try to get changed at the venue, not at my house beforehand. What if I spill something when I’m eating on the way there?
And if I’m flying, I always put an alternate outfit in my carry on. That way if they lose my luggage, I still have something to wear the first day.
2. Extra Makeup
I seem to always forget one thing–mascara, blush–last time it was a lip brush. So now I’ve bought a second set of makeup brushes, and I have two sets of makeup. One for when I travel and one for at home. And I keep the travel makeup simple–neutrals that can go with any color. That way when I’m getting ready to go and speak I don’t have to rummage through to get my makeup. I just grab the bag!
Talk Emergency Kit
1. Your Notes
What’s the one thing you’d be in dire straits if you didn’t have it? Your notes! If you don’t have your notes–or your slides, if you use them–then you’re in trouble.
Many of us print out our notes, or have them on a device, like an iPad. We may bring our PowerPoint or any supplementary materials, like videos, on a USB stick. But what if your iPad dies, or you lose the cord and can’t charge it? What if they can’t read your USB stick–or you lose it?
All you need to do is to store your notes and presentations in “the cloud”, so that you can access it anywhere. I use Dropbox, which I can sync to my computer, iPad, and phone. And I can also email links to all of my items to someone else if they need them.
That way if technology messes up I can still access it!
Incidentally, by having my PowerPoint and videos on Dropbox, I can also send those links to the audio/visual people before the talk, and they can upload it and make sure it works beforehand. It saves a lot of stress on the night!
The other thing I’m passionate about is a timer. If I know I want to speak for 45 minutes, then I have to stick to 45 minutes. But sometimes a clock isn’t visible on the back wall, and it’s hard to keep looking down at a watch (or to keep track on your iPad). So I bring a simple kitchen timer that’s magnetic that I can just stick to the music stand, or place on a podium. That way I always know how much time I’ve taken!
So those are the things that I bring when I speak. What’s in your speaking emergency kit? Let me know in the comments!
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