Top 12 Things in My Presenter’s Toolkit

Many trainers and presenters, especially when they’re just getting started, underestimate the probability of something going wrong with the technical set up at their event. And trying to troubleshoot with a room full of anxious people watching your every move is nobody’s idea of fun.

Anyone who does any type of speaking or presenting should have a good toolkit to handle the inevitable challenges you’ll run into along the way. Here are the top 12 things I always have with me for every workshop, conference session, or any other type of presentation I deliver.

Before you begin, you should know the science behind giving a powerful and persuasive presentation. And one of the best places to start is Susan Weinschenk’s “100 Things Every Presenter Needs to Know About People

100 Things Every Presenter Needs to Know About People by Susan Weinschenk

513m7bmk04l-_sx387_bo1204203200_ “100 Things Every Presenter Needs to Know About People” is a great book that will teach you things like how people process information, the best ways to grab and hold people’s attention, how to move people to action and more.

In this book, Susan shares how to use psychology to be a better presenter. A lot of presenters craft talks based on their personal intuition of what is best. And that is fine, as long as your intuition aligns with the science. There is something for everyone to learn from this book and as usual, you can learn even more by plugging into Susan’s blog and following her on Twitter ( @thebrainlady ).


30003aVGA, DVI, HDMI, etc. You never know what combination of alphabet soup you’re going to need to connect your laptop or iPad to a projector, TV, or who knows what type of projection system.

Most projectors support VGA and more modern ones also support DVI and/or HDMI inputs, Murphy’s Law means that whatever one you plan for will not be what is actually available when you show up.  Don’t forget the audio connections if you’re using any multimedia.

While many conferences can help you out, the stakes are way too high to leave this to chance.

Presentation Remote aka Clicker

61kv3zrvp8l-_sl1300_This is another thing that event organizers will often provide and another thing I wouldn’t leave to chance, especially at smaller events. Logitech has several good ones including my favorite the R800. I like that it has a 100ft range and a timer you can set to buzz to keep you on schedule. For a little less money, the R400 is also a good one.   There are a lot of options to suit your needs. Just don’t forget the extra batteries.

If you co-present you can plug two clickers into the same computer so both speakers can advance their own slides without having to pass the remote back and forth.

Backup plans

Not only should you have a backup plan, but you should also have a backup to the backup and maybe even several more to back those plans up. Even if your host promises you everything will be taken care of, don’t ever assume that is actually the case. There are far too many details that can fall through the cracks, and right or wrong, all of them will reflect directly on you.

At a minimum, you’ll want to have backup copies of your slides. If you’re presenting on your own computer, be prepared for it not to work. Save a copy of your slides on a thumb drive, online someplace like Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. I always try to also save a PDF version of my slides, which can be displayed on any computer even one that doesn’t have PowerPoint installed.

Depending on the situation I’ve even traveled with my own entire set up including computer, iPad, projector and speakers. As they say, hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

It matters if you built your deck on Windoes but are presenting on a Mac and vice versa. Here are a few things to consider when navigating between a PC and a Mac.

Internet Access

skyroam_device_global_no_shadow_no_canvas_smallIf you’re doing live demos or anything else that requires an internet connection, you’ll definitely want a back up plan for that.  I love including live polls in many of my talks which require an internet connection. I always have a fallback plan for internet that doesn’t work. (It happens way more often than you think!)

If you are totally dependent on having internet in your session, be sure to get to the venue you are presenting in early enough troubleshoot your connection and consider bringing your own connection along via a mobile hotspot. I’m fortunate to have the best library in the world where I can check out a mobile hotspot for free.

If you’re library isn’t as awesome as mine and you don’t want to buy one yourself, you can  try something like Sky Roam and rent one. Their service even works internationally.


Speaking of live polls, I’m a big fan of @polleverywhere.  I’ve talked about Poll Everywhere before and their free PowerPoint add-in makes adding interactive, real-time polls to your presentations a snap. And the best part is that your audience will love participating and being a part of your talk!


Slide Hosting

If you want to make your slides available, you’ll want a good place to post them. Slideshare is where I share mine. With Slideshare, you’ll be able to embed your slides in your own website or other places online. You’ll also get some nice analytics so you can see what is happening with your slides. It is nice to see how many views and where people are who are checking them out.


I’m a big believer in creating separate handouts for the sessions I deliver. Without me there to explain, my slides are not nearly as valuable. The nitty gritty details that stand alone without me there are in my handouts.

There are a number of benefits both for and the audience. For me, I don’t have to worry about diluting my presentation message with all the “nice to have” content. And for my audience, handouts let them relax and pay attention without trying to take notes. The handout also directs them where to find more details and how to easily contact me with any questions.


Speaking of handouts, I  recently discovered TalkBook and I’m super excited about it. If you’re providing handouts, contact information and other supporting details to your audience, you’ll like this too. TalkBook lets you set up everything in advance then, when you’re ready, you can share a simple link that collects email addresses and automatically sends your handouts and other information.  It even lets them rate you and ask follow-up questions. This is a  huge upgrade to the old way of handling this.

Try it for yourself and see what you think. I’d love to hear your thoughts?


If you’re not leveraging the power of social media for your engagements you’re really missing an opportunity. From building interest in advance to sharing tweetable messages and follow-up resources afterward social media can give you a big boost. Buffer is one of my favorite social media tools and lets you schedule posts to Twitter, LinkedIn, and other platforms. You’ll also get insightful analytics to see how people are interacting with your posts.




Social Share is a PowerPoint add-in that makes it easy to share your slides directly to Facebook and Twitter without needing to leave PowerPoint.

Portable Bluetooth speaker

81jla8ypbcl-_sl1500_I’ve come to appreciate how music can improve an experience. I like to have some subtle music playing as people filter into a session and if it is a workshop during breaks, lumch, working sessions, etc. There are some really great stations on Pandora and Google Music that work great for this. I have this Bose speaker and it is fantastic, but there are tons of great options for any budget.

I know there are lots of other things that lots of other speakers and trainers will never leave home without. What is on your ‘must have’ list? Duct tape, extension cords, power strips, flip charts, dry erase markers? Whatever it is, I’d love to hear about it.

This is the 8th post in a 12 post series. 

Top Presentation Slide Decks

Like it or not, the ability to create effective slide designs is a skill that will benefit you and any audience you are trying to reach. This collection is of slide decks will help anyone improve their presentation and slide making skills.

If you want to dive even deeper, you might be interested in this big curated collection of PowerPoint and presentation-related resources that I maintain over on Zeef.

The Science of Memorable Presentations | Ethos 3

Many people who build presentations and other slide-based content like e-learningg can benefit from learning the science behind what works best and what doesn’t. This deck from Ethos 3 is a great start. While you’re at it, check out this must read post on “The Scientific Reason Why Bullets Are Bad for Presentations”

Why Presentations Matter |
The Presentation Designer

In this SlideShare presentation, you’ll see some helpful tips to improve your presentation designs and how to make your presentations more engaging.

Slides that Rock

Five design principles for creating slides that rock!

8 Tips for an Awesome PowerPoint Presentation | Damon Nofar

Try out these eight tips on how to make your PowerPoint slides more visually engaging, creative and fun.

74 Safe Font Combos for PowerPoint |  Johanna Rehnvall

This interactive guide is divided into four groups:  sans serif+sans serifs, sans serifs + serifs, serifs + serifs, serifs + sans serifs. It also has a super helpful matrix view.

23 Quick Color Schemes for Your Presentation | Johanna Rehnvall

This is a quick guideto the built-in PowerPoint color themes which can be easily applied to your presentation and graphics, regardless of what presentation template you are using.

5 Ways to Surprise Your Audience and Catch Their Attention | Damon Nofar

Gaining and keeping the attention of your audience is critical. Check out these five ways of using the element of surprise in your presentations.

One Point Per Slide | Stinson Design

This deck will show you why having only one point per slide is important!

How to be a PowerPoint Animation Ninja | Bright Carbon

BrightCarbon’s presentation experts guide you from animation novice to ninja in 7 easy steps! If you like this one, be sure the check out  How To Be A PowerPoint Animation Ninja (Level 2)!

You Suck at PowerPoint | Jesse Dejardins

Learn about the 5 design mistakes you need to avoid.

Slide Docs | Nancy Duarte

Slidedocs are visual documents developed in presentation software intended to be read and referenced instead of projected. Take a spin through this deck and start reimagining your documents. Visit Nancy Duarte’s to learn more and download templates that will get you started.

You Already Know How to Build mLearning (You Just Don’t Know It) | Mike Taylor

Mobile content is rapidly becoming a must-have for organizations big and small. This deck will show you how quick and easy it can be to build mobile-friendly content with PowerPoint (yes, PowerPoint) that is visually appealing, interactive, and dynamic.

I’d love to hear if you like any of these or what others are on your list of favorites!

This is post #7 in a series of 12. See them all here. 

12 Incredibly Useful Blogs for Learning Cool Stuff


It is no secret that I’m a huge proponent of learning. I make time every day to learn something new and am always on the lookout for useful takeaways from my experiences. One of the coolest things about learning is when you find something super useful and learn something you didn’t even know you needed to learn. These are some of my favorite sites that have given me those types of “Aha! Learning Moments”

Plug these into your favorite RSS/Feed reader and never miss a trick!

If you don’t have one or even know what the heck that means, jump over here to learn more and try Feedly. You’ll be glad you did!

PowerPoint, Slide Design & Elearning

Bright Carbon


Nuts & Bolts – Taylor Croonquist


Articulate E-Learning Heroes


Canva Design School


Save time and subscribe to all of these* by plugging this into your favorite feed reader:

* Articulate doesn’t have any feeds available, which is a bummer. 8-(


Chandoo – Purna Duggirala


General Awesomeness

Digital Inspiration – Amit Agarwal


Steve Dotto


Better Cloud


Check with your library for FREE access to courses.




Microsoft’s Office Blogs


Mike Tips

Yes, these are mine. 😎


This is post #6 in a series of 12. See them all here. 


L&D People You Should Be Following on Twitter

Is it safe to assume that if you’re reading this post you are also on Twitter? If not, you are missing out on a great opportunity to connect with and learn from a lot of super smart people. Take a quick hop on over to learn a bit about tweeting professionally. Really, go ahead. We’ll wait right here until you get back.

I admit that when I first signed up for Twitter, I didn’t really know what to do with it. The light bulb finally went off after I discovered #lrnchat and the amazing conversations happening there among that wonderful group of people.

Over the years I’ve learned a lot from the connections I’ve made via Twitter. Here are some of the people I consistently learn the most from. If you like, you can follow them all in a single click via this Twitter list.


If you’re looking for even more, here are a couple of other lists for you to check out:

Ajay Pangarkar’s (@BizLearningDudeTop 20 Learning And Development Value Tweeters

Jane Hart’s (@c4lpt) – 100 people who tweet about L&D
Follow them all with a single click via her Twitter list  Workplace Learning Twitter list

This list is over 5 years old now, but still has lots of good people on it – The first 99 people you should follow on Twitter.

Thanks for reading! Who is your favorite person to learn from on Twitter? If we’re not connected there yet I’m @tmiket.

This is the fifth post of a 12 part series. 

Where to Find the Best Presentation Templates & Design Inspiration

At some point, nearly everyone needs to design slides. Whether for an online elearning course, a training workshop, a conference presentation, a sales pitch or a whole host of other reasons you always want to look your best. Instead of staring at a blank screen trying to come up with ideas, why not tap into some of the great templates and resources that are available to you.


Here is a collection of my favorite sites for presentation templates and slide design inspiration.

  1. Slide Model
  2. Slide Shop

    Don’t miss out on the free slides available from Slide Model and Slideshop. Subscribe to their email list and you’ll get free slides in your inbox every week!

  3. Slides Carnival
  4. Elearning Heroes
  5. Site2Max
  6. Canva
  7. SlideGeeks
  8. Graphic River
  9. Envato
  10. Creative Market
  11. Duarte Diagrammer
  12. Duarte SlideDocs

Want even more? You can find some templates and tons of inspiration on design sites like Dribbble and Behance. I’ve even got a few of my own to offer here.


Thanks for reading! Do you use any of these or maybe there are some others that I missed?  Let me know with a comment below or via social media using the hashtag #12×12

Day 4 of 12 | Check out the entire series here

#12×12 Day 3 Books

I’m a big fan of books and today I’d like to share 12 of my favorite professional books. These are the books I’d recommend to anyone who does anything related to learning , training delivery, instructional design, etc.

If you’d like to connect with me on Good Reads, you can see other books that I’ve read or want to read as well as find out what others are saying about the books you’re interested in. You can find this list over on Good Reads too.


  1. Visual Design by Connie Malamed
  2. Elearning Science of Instruction by Ruth Clark and Richard Mayer
  3. Design for how People Learn by Julie Dirksen
  4. Work Out Loud by John Stepper
  5. slideology by Nancy Duarte
  6. Performance Consulting by James and Dana Robinson
    (Check out the third edition with new contributions from Dick Handshaw & others.)
  7. Beyond Bullet Points by Cliff Atkinson
    (Check the website for some useful templatesto help you organize your presentations.)
  8. Made to Stick by Dan & Chip Heath
  9. Make it Stick by Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, Mark A. McDaniel
  10. Analyzing Performance Problems
  11. 100 Things Every Designer Should Know About People
  12. Nobody Wants to Read Your SH*T! by Ste

Thanks for reading! What books have you found the most helpful? Reply with a comment below or via social media using the hashtag #12×12

Upgrade Your Work with These Add-ins #12×12 Day 2

Let me start by admitting I’m not quite sure what to call these. Add-ons? Plug-ins? Extensions? If you know the difference I’d love to hear what it is. 😎 Regardless of what you call them, all of these will help you work smarter.

Why would anyone want to use add-ons?

  • Integrating with tools and services.
    For example, apps like Diigo, Evernote and lots of others offer add-ons that let you easily save bookmarks, clip pages, etc right within your browser
  • Getting add additional features.
    For example, adding features that don’t already exist in your browser or application. Like the image searching features in the Pexels PowerPoint add-in below.
  • Adjusting how you interact with websites.
    For example adding, removing, or modifying content like blocking ads or providing additional providing information for shopping websites, etc.

Regardless of what you call them, all of these will help you work smarter and fall into two categories–browser add-ins and application add-ins.

Browser Add-ins

These are Google Chrome add-ons but you can also get them for other browsers. You’ll find these and others in the Chrome Web Store, while Firefox extensions are available on Mozilla’s Add-ons site.  The options for Microsoft Explorer are much more limited but you can check the Internet Explorer Add-on Gallery website if you’re really stuck with IE.

1. The Great Suspender
(Memory Manager – Chrome add-in)

Lots of open tabs can really bog down your browser. This handy add-in automatically suspends unused tabs to free up system resources. And you can easily get them right back whenever you need them.  Check out last year’s post for more details on how this works and why you need it.  | Get it here.

2. Feedly
(News Feed reader app)

Feedly is a feed reader that allows you to subscribe to the news sources you want and have them all come to you. (Think Amazon Prime vs racing around to a zillion different stores for your holiday shopping!) Check out last year’s post for more details. | Get it here.

* Easily add websites to your feedly
* Save pages for later
* Email pages
* Tweet pages
* Share pages on facebook
* Save pages to Evernote
* Curate and tag pages

3. Buffer
(Social Media sharing)

Buffer is the best way to share great content to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn from anywhere on the web, with just one click. Get it here.


4. Grammarly
(Writing -Chrome add-in)

Grammarly’s free writing app makes sure everything you type is easy to read, effective, and mistake-free. Grammarly will check your spelling and grammar  on Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Tumblr, and almost anywhere else you write on the web. They’ve also got an add-in for Microsoft Office so you’ll be covered there too.


Check out last year’s post for more details. | Get it here.

5. Hemmingway App
(Writing app)

Hemmingway is another tool that helps you up your writing game. Like Grammarly, Hemmingway also has apps for Mac, Windows and Office. As you can see below, this app calls out suggested improvements with color coded highlights.


Check out last year’s post for more details. | Get it here.

6. Dropbox for Gmail
(Chrome add-in)

Dropbox for Gmail helps you share files from your Dropbox via your Gmail account. This adds a Dropbox icon at the bottom of your compose messgage window that connects you via a pop-up window to the contents of your Dropbox account. Select a file to share it via Dropbox and avoid the hassle of email file attachments. My favorite part is the recent files list that helps me avoid wasting time looking for the file in Dropbox.


Check out last year’s post for more details. | Get it here.

7. Lastpass
(Password manager)

How to you keep track of passwords? Sticky notes or spreadsheets? LastPass is a dead simple, no-brainer option for making your passwords more secure and easier to use. Just do it!  If you don’t think you need it, think again.  Your  password solution probably isn’t as good as you think!)

Check out last year’s post for more details. | Get it here.

8. Google Chrome Remote Desktop
(Remote access)

This one is great for anyone who does any kind of support or wants to remotely access a computer in some other location. The best thing about this one is how easy it is to setup and use.


Check out last year’s post for more details. | Get it here.

PowerPoint & Windows Add-ins

9. PollEverywhere
(PowerPoint audience participation add-in)

If you do any presenting at all you need to get this free addition to PowerPoint right now! Yes, seriously. It is that good.You and your audiences will be glad you did! After installing you’ll get a new tab right in PowerPoint for creating and inserting a variety of poll questions that your audience can respond to via the web or SMS.


Check out last year’s post for more details. | Get it here.

10. Google Drive for MS Office
(Office add-in)

Want to share your files via Google Drive but still, work on them in Office? This one puts your Gdrive files inside Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc right at your fingertips!


Check out last year’s post for more details. | Get it here.

11. Power User
(add-in for PowerPoint)

If you’re looking to upgrade the work you do in PowerPoint, check out Power User. With features not otherwise available in PowerPoint, it can be a big time-saver.


Check out last year’s post for more details. | Get it here.

12. PowerPoint Labs
(add-in for PowerPoint)

PowerPoint Labs is another add-in for PowerPoint that you’ll want to have when you see all that it can do. Check the video to see some of the superpowers you’ll get with this one.

Check out last year’s post for more details. | Get it here.

Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear what else is on your list. Reply with a comment below or via social media using the hashtag #12×12

Day 2 of 12 | Check out the entire series here.

#12×12 Day 1: Learning Tools

I can’t tell you how important I think learning is to everyone. Regardless of your age, your career or anything else if you’re not continually learning new things, you’re falling behind. So in that context, I’d like to kick-off this #12×12 series with 12 of my favorite learning tools.

For the past several years I’ve shared my Top 10 Learning Tools as part of Jane Hart’s awesome Top 100 Learning Tools project.

This list is very similar with a couple extras for good measure. How does your list compare to mine? Reply with a comment below or via social media using the hashtag #12×12


While Twitter fell from number one in Jane’s list this year, it still holds the top in my list. There is no better place to discover, connect, and learn with smart people in your field.  If we’ve not connected there yet, you can find me on Twitter as @tmiket.

If curious about how I use Twitter, take a minute to listen on this podcast where I talk about how I use Twitter and how a few other tools on this list relate connect with my personal knowledge management (PKM) system.


Feedly is the best way  to keep up with everything I want to keep up on. Feedly allows me to set up my own personalized flow of information, keep it organized exactly the way I want and makes it easy for me to share the best things I find with others via Twitter and other social media platforms.  Feedly is the hub for my personal knowledge management system (PKM).


Watch the video above to see how Buffer fits into my PKM system. In short, Buffer really simplifies how I share most of my social media posts and saves a lot of time by removing the inefficiencies of a more manual approach.


PowerPoint often gets a bad wrap. To steal a line from David Anderson “Blaming #PowerPoint for bad #elearning is like blaming #Word for poor instructional design.”

PowerPoint is an excellent option for:

If you’re interested in digging in deeper, I curate a continuously updated collection of PowerPoint resources over on Zeef.


WordPress is such a super useful tool with a wide variety of uses including  personal websites , grad school portfolio project, newsletter websites, and even a type of online “course” like this online social learning course, Learn Camp,  that has attracted participants from around the world.

Google Drive/Docs

Often the simplest tools are the ones that get used the most. Also, I am a big believer in removing as much friction as possible when collaborating with others. The Google suite of apps hits the sweet spot for capabilities and ease of use while allowing everyone to work right from their web browser. The co-authoring / file sharing features alone should make it part of your personal toolkit.

Friends don’t let friends email file attachments! 😎

If Google isn’t an option for you, check ot Office Online.


YouTube ranks high for me when I need to learn how to do something fast. From fixing lawn movers to replacing the lift gate struts on the family mini-van YouTube is often there for you in your time of need.


There is very rarely a work day that goes by without me using SnagIt. I’ve used a lot of other tools for capturing and annotating screen shots but none compare to SnagIt.


Need a professional looking graphic but you’re not a designer and you don’t have much time? No sweat! Pop over to and use one of their fantastic templates to crank out what you need in no time. They’ve got you covered for everything from social media graphics to presentation designs and much, much more.


Almost everyone has some kind of mailing list that can benefit from using Mailchimp. This is a huge time-saver and for L&D types you can extend and supplement your existing training/learning content; even tap into a self-running email course like this one for a recent Online Training Conference session I did with Brian Washburn.

Sign-up for the free “What L&D Should Steal from Marketing” email course. 


For a long time, I’ve been searching for a good way to organize and share the best resources around a particular topic. Zeef is designed to help people cut through the noise and help you point them to the best resources. For example, check out my pages:

Another really good one is Tracy Parish’s Free E-Learning Tools page.

Thanks for reading! I’d love to hear what else is on your list of top tools. Reply with a comment below or via social media using the hashtag #12×12

Day 1 of 12 | Check out the entire series here

12×12 Days of Christmas

Last year I shared my 12 Apps of Christmas and I’m happy to say that those apps have passed the test of time and are still humming along in my browser today. This year I’m challenging myself to kick it up a notch and share 12 items for each of the 12 days of Christmas.

So be sure to follow along the next 12 days for your super-sized dose of recommended learning tools, books, apps and more. Check back tomorrow for day 1 and the first list of 12–my favorite tools for learning.

Even better, join in along the way and share your favorites using the hashtag #12×12

Happy Holidays!

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