Chances are that sometimes you'll be called upon to make a business presentation while traveling nearby, if not internationally .

It could be at a remote client site, a branch office or an investor pitch in another city. But nothing kills the concentration required by the audience like you fumbling around with nonfunctioning or unfamiliar equipment.

So here are the most important tools and tips you'll need for an effective presentation, one that keeps your clients focused on the content.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Be sure to test your presentation well before you leave the office, and run through it again the night before.

Familiarity with all of the elements -- from how all the parts go together, setting the screen resolution and adjusting volume and audio levels -- is very important. And going through it all in advance will alert you to any parts that may have been damaged during your trip.

The rehearsal will also help your verbal presentation. Ad-libbing is permissible if you're experienced, but being very familiar with the points you're trying to make will help keep you smooth and on-message, especially if the audience has unexpected questions.

Laptop Essentials

I know you're not going to forget to take your laptop, but there's a couple of tips to keep in mind. Laptop theft is a steadily increasing crime, so be sure to keep it with you at all times, or secured in your hotel-room safe. A former FBI agent was on a panel I was conducting on high-tech crime, and his laptop was stolen just before our talk -- it can happen to anyone.

Take along an extra charged battery, and make sure your AC power charger is actually working before you leave the office.

To view Russell Vines' video take of today's segment, click here .

If you're presenting overseas, be sure to take along power converter adapters , as many laptops can't connect to the local AC.

Projection Basics

The presentation room may or may not have an LCD projector available. If you've used the provided projector before, or you know that there will be equipment you can use, you can pass on this tip. However, always take an assortment of video cables (more on that below).

Your company may have a projector that you can take on your travels -- a good solution, as you can practice with it before you go. Don't forget to bring along a replacement bulb for the unit.

But be sure you have a thick, padded travel case for it as this equipment is expensive and fragile. And don't check a projector, unless it's in an Anvil case ; otherwise, carry it on with your laptop.

If you need to provide your own projector, you might be able to find a company that rents equipment nearby. NetworkAV.com or Meeting Tomorrow can help you locate AV equipment rental companies in the area that can provide what you need. Try to get the projector on-site or to your hotel well before the event, so you have time to practice with it.

Alternately, the space might offer a widescreen digital TV monitor for presentations. These are quickly replacing projectors as the best way to view computer graphics, as the contrast and viewability is much finer.

Many widescreen TV vendors have wall mount units that have S-video or composite video inputs. Try to obtain the make and model of the one you'll be using before you leave, so you can be sure you have the right cables and adapters.

The final solution is actually purchasing an LCD projector. This may make business sense if your company needs a new one or you expect to make many presentations in the upcoming months. Several vendors like InFocus , Sharp and Canon make LCD projectors in the $700-$4,000 range.

Look for a unit with the highest ANSI Lumens rating you can afford, which is the spec that will determine how well images can be viewed.

The Cable Connection

The biggest presentation problems always seem to lie with the cables connecting your laptop to the projector or digital TV. Some projectors have connectors built-in that accommodate SVGA, S-video, RGB or composite video, but take along an assortment of video cables regardless.

You'll be ahead of the game if you find out what the cable requirements are before you leave. Cables To Go , for instance, has a great virtual projector online that helps you select the appropriate cables.

You also may need a video output converter to translate your laptop's video output into a signal the digital TV can use.

If All Else Fails

And one final tip: Make backup copies of your presentation on CDs, and don't store them with your laptop.

In case your laptop disappears or dies -- or the presentation gets corrupted -- you can grab someone else's machine and still get the presentation up and running.

In the old days, a whiteboard with markers was enough to get your point across. Now audiences require high-tech flash and sizzle. So be well prepared, and you'll definitely leave them wanting more.
Russell Dean Vines is Chief Security Advisor for Gotham Technology LLC and a bestselling author. His most recent book is The CISSP and CAP Prep Guide: Platinum Edition, published by John S. Wiley and Sons.

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