Mar 14, 2019

A pre-talk checklist for the stressed presenter’s peace of mind

Here is a quick little checklist I thought I should share. I use it to make sure everything goes smoothly during my presentations.

The only caveat is that you might need to copy and adapt the list for your own hardware and software setup. I use a MacBook with only USB-C ports, and I write my slides in reveal.js.

When you’re first reading this article

  • Install Caffeine — a cool little utility for disabling the screensaver with one click.
  • Place some stickers on your clicker and receiver. You don’t want them mixed up with someone else’s.

At home

  • Have a cloud backup in case of hardware failures. With reveal.js you can push your presentation code to GitLab with a GitLab Pages CI config. This way you’ll be able to access your slides from any computer.
  • Have a PDF backup in case of software failures. With reveal.js you can export your slides as PDF and send it to the organizers.
  • Disconnect from the internet. Open your slides and go all the way through to the end. Make sure there are no broken elements or animations.
  • Charge your laptop to 100%.
  • Pack a clicker, USB hub, HDMI converter, and a charger.

At the venue, one hour early

  • Serve your slides with python3 -m http.serverin a blank terminal.
  • Quit everything in the menu bar, in the dock, and in Chrome.
  • Turn on the Do Not Disturb mode on your computer and phone.
  • Turn on Caffeine.
  • Remove all USB devices — such as YubiKeys — from your laptop and USB hub.
  • Empty your pockets.
  • Plug in your USB hub and the clicker’s receiver.
  • Do one practice run of the ‘on stage’ steps.
  • Test your clicker on stage, while walking around a bit.

On stage, right before your talk

  • Plug in a charger.
  • Increase the screen brightness to 100% — to make the speaker notes more visible.
  • Refresh the browser.
  • Plug in the projector.
  • Use the Touch Bar to set up the “External Display” mode.
  • Open speaker notes with the S key.
  • Move the speaker notes to the laptop screen.
  • Click the maximise button on the speaker notes window.
  • Maximise the presentation with the F key.
  • Move the cursor off from the projector screen.
  • Breathe.
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