December 2, 2014

My 2015 holiday speaker gift list is here!

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

And it's also the time of the year, when I update my annual list of speaker gifts, to help you find the best gifts for the speaker in your life -- who might just be you! There are also oldies but goodies here that are my go-to items, so take a look and have fun shopping.

New goodies

As I've gotten more comfortable shooting DIY video, I've realized that I need
one good backdrop that I can always use in a pinch. Sometimes I like to arrange a nice scene behind me, but more often I just want a simple plain backdrop. Here are two options; one is low-tech (and inexpensive) and one is high-tech (and still pretty reasonable)!

This kit comes with a muslin backdrop, stand and two lights.

Or, if your space is limited, do what I've done and buy yourself some nice backdrop paper that you can tape or pin to the wall in the place you're shooting your video!

I've also been doing more webinars and teleseminars over the past couple of years, and good audio is a critical component of these recordings. If people can't clearly hear you, if the sound is scratchy or contains interference, they will turn off your recording, period.

It's worth investing in a decent microphone (preferably wired, for best sound); here are my picks.

For off-camera recordings, like webinars and teleseminars, I use a big ol' USB headset like this one. The audio quality is excellent and it's fairly comfortable.

When you're on-camera for, say, a Google Hangout, then you may not want to look like a big dork in a giant headset. In that case, check out a desktop USB microphone like this one. I'm still in the market for a good desktop mic, and this will likely be it.

There are lot of little things you can have on hand in your speaker kit that'll make your life easier: hand sanitizer (for all those hands you're going to shake), extra batteries, a bottle of water, some mints, masking tape, notebook and pen.... Two things I always have on hand are lip balm (this one is made by one of my favorite local companies in Santa Barbara) and a pocket pack of toothpicks (you do not want food in your teeth when you take the stage!).

Oldies but goodies...


I've been using the Flip cam forever, and while it's no longer being manufactured, mine still works great! The video quality is excellent, and the sound is pretty good. It doesn't have a mic jack, unfortunately, so in those times when I need an audio boost, I might use my Samsung phone instead.

The problem with my phone is that there's no way to attach it to a tripod. The solution? This fabulous little GripTight adapter from Joby. I particularly recommend this one because it expands to fit my Samsung Galaxy SIII, even in its case. Most adapters are made to fit the iPhone and are too small for the Samsung. This adapter will fit any phone. It folds flat and even has a hole to add it to your keychain. I love this little guy!

Joby also makes the GorillaPod, a portable, bendable tripod that you can use anywhere and wrap around anything! A great addition to your video bag of tricks, especially if you like shooting on-the-go. (See both together in the photo on the left.)

Unhitch yourself from the laptop with a wireless presentation remote. This one fits perfectly in my hand, and has simple buttons to move slides forward, backward, and black out the screen. (It also has a laser pointer, but please don't use that.) There are a lot of nice remotes on the market; pick the one that fits best in your hand and has the features that you need.

I love my portable 4-port USB hub, and it is a permanent part of my speaking bag of tricks. I never know when I'll need more ports (for example, ports on the host's computer are too close together for more than one of my USB drives to fit).


Make your flip chart notes portable when you carry a lightweight table top easel pad. The sheets stick to the wall like giant Post-It notes and can be placed around the room for further reference throughout your presentation. The easel folds out to stand on a table and folds flat for transport. You can also hang it from a traditional flip chart easel.

Or if you're in the market for a reusable flip chart, try this table top dry erase easel pad.

And for notes on the go, with clients or in small group presentations around a table, try these peel-and-stick dry erase sheets that you can quickly post on the wall, write and erase, or as I've done, just punch holes in them and keep them in a notebook for easy access. (You'll also need dry erase markers to go with these boards and sheets. This pack has nontoxic low-odor ink.)

For regular flip charts, I like these scented markers for their bright, saturated colors, but if you prefer unscented bullet tip markers and have concerns about the markers bleeding through the paper, try these instead.

Fun and Useful Stuff

How about trying out a document stand for your speaker notes? I keep my notes to the side of the stage, on a table or lectern, and in order to see them clearly (I also use a big font!), it's nice to be able to stand them up to make them more visible from afar. This one is foldable. I don't use a clip, however, because I want to be able to flip pages quickly.

I've brought back some of my favorite speaker sayings as magnets in the Zazzle store. If you're looking for a cheeky stocking stuffer for your favorite speaker, this is it!

To keep your audience engaged and stimulated, bring toys, toys, toys, and more toys. These are some of my favorites!

Use this hand pointer to poke some fun at the audience.

Need a way to haul all your tools and materials around? I've got a rolling craft cart similar to this one. Holds everything I need!

Reading Recommendations

Still my favorite book out there: Learn how to make your message memorable with Chip and Dan Heath's Made to Stick.

Dump the boring templates and bullets and create engaging support materials with Beyond Bullet Points, Cliff Atkinson's book that teaches how to outline and design image-based slides with ease.

Titles a bore? Not any more! Get Sam Horn's POP! Create the Perfect Pitch, Title, and Tagline For Anything, and give your presentation and blog titles that extra WOW factor.

Learn how to persuade anyone of anything with this easy read: Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive.

An interesting sneak peek behind the scenes of the motivational speaking industry is Yes You Can! Behind the Hype and Hustle of the Motivation Biz.

If you'd like an alternative to the usual Martin Luther King/Lincoln/Churchill "famous speeches" books, how about one that shines the spotlight on historical speeches by women? Women at the Podium : Memorable Speeches in History

Packed full of useful tips based on real professional speakers' experiences, National Speakers Association "Speaker Magazine" is a must-have to build your skills.

And if you don't like lugging books around with you, maybe it's time to invest in a Kindle. Once you buy your Kindle, then you can download this blog and my 101 Tips to Improve Your Public Speaking to take with you!


Last but not least, if you think the aspiring speaker in your life might benefit from some self-paced training for best practices in audience engagement and general presentation success, then consider giving the gift of my home study program, "Speak to Engage: 7-Step Shortcut to Public Speaking Success."

This is a web-based program with audios, videos, articles, a workbook and other resources for any speaker to complete at their own pace, on their own time schedule, with all the benefits of working with me in a live program!

Get in touch if you'd like to give this as a gift, and we'll work out the details!

Whew! The list changes every year, and I hope you find something here to make your presentations smoother and more effective, or a gift for that special speaker in your life. Happy Holidays!

On The Everything Page you'll find everything you need to build visibility, credibility and influence through engaging presentations that move your participants into action: freebies, low-cost products and courses, and 1:1 coaching!

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