We’ve all waited patiently for an event to begin as the presenter fiddled with wires, adapters, or other accessories in an attempt to get things working. So which questions should you ask of your host prior to the big day to avoid being “that guy”?

Computer

Is the host providing a machine for you to present from, or are you expected to bring your own device?

Fairly self-explanatory, but you absolutely need to know what to bring with you. Nothing is more important than the laptop or other device you will be presenting from. If you are going to use your own device, then it is your responsibility to account for all of the factors required to make it work.

Internet

Will the device you will be presenting from have an internet connection in the room?
If so, is it wired or wifi?

You want to know ahead of time that you can connect to the web for any cloud-applications, websites, media, etc. A wired connection will use an ethernet cable that you or your host need to have. Connecting to a wifi network will require a username and password that you should ask for ahead of time. You don’t want your host to be running around their building looking for an IT person to get that info at the last minute.

Depending on what your presentation entails, lack of internet access can be a big issue. If you will not have a reliable internet connection then you will need to download your materials to a thumb drive or other local storage ahead of time.

Screen

What is the screen your presentation will appear on?

Common options include:

  • Projector & Screen
  • Television
  • SMART Board or other interactive whiteboard

Will the screen’s format be Widescreen (16:9) or Standard (4:3)?

The quality of the viewing experience for any media will differ across various resolutions or screen proportions. You may need to make sure that your presentation is properly scaled to fit on the display you will be using. The more information you have about the room’s display, the better you can make your content look.

Connections

Will you need an adapter, cord, etc. to be able to get your presentation up on the screen?

Start by asking your host which ports or connections their display system uses. Apple devices in particular are infamous for requiring adapter dongles to connect the built-in ports to various commonly used standards in the tech industry.

Example: You are bringing your Macbook and their conference room’s smart tv needs to connect via HDMI. You might need a mini-display port to HDMI adapter in order for the connection to work.

General Considerations

The more you know about the environment, the better. Your style and methods may change if you are in a boardroom with the audience around a conference table vs. a lecture hall with theater seating.

Lighting, microphones, seating, podium, etc. can all contribute to the way you opt to present. If possible, try to get a tour of the space ahead of time and talk with any relevant technical staff to make sure you know how everything will work.