I first ran this list a few years back. Here it is again, updated for 2013 and in time for Black Friday: what to get your favorite public speaking family member or friend for the holidays. Following (in no particular order and at varying price points) are 10 suggestions for anyone who speaks, presents, or just worries a lot about speaking in public.
1. A GREAT BOOK
Since it would be immodest to nominate my own books, this year I’m going to propose Nancy Duarte’s Resonate as my 2013 choice for public speakers. It’s a great book on the design and structuring of a good speech. Nancy’s passion for getting it right shows through on every page.
2. A HALF-DOZEN THUMB DRIVES
Last time I checked, you can pick up thumb drives with 8 gigs or more storage on them for $10-20 US. You may well be able to do better than that. What’s more, you can get them in all kinds of cute styles and configurations, so you can even theme this gift appropriately. The idea is to have all the necessary backups of presentations, videos, marketing information and so on easily portable and safely replicated – and ready to give away to curious speaker bureau reps.
3. A Canon 5D SLR with Video
The best way to improve your craft as a speaker – besides hiring a coach like me – is to record yourself speaking and then review the tape thoughtfully and honestly. The SLRs have gotten so good that their video capabilities are used by Hollywood in lieu of even more expensive movie cameras – these high-end SLRs aren’t cheap. But you can use them to record yourself, review the recording, and if it’s good, you can even use the footage in your sizzle reel. Nikon and Olympus make similar products that are just as good.
4. A TABLET AND APPS
Whether you go for Samsung or Apple, you can use a tablet to show slides, take notes, act like a teleprompter-like device, or as a white board. If you can’t afford the SLR, you can use the tablet to record your speech, too, if you’re not using it for something else. Bring your public speaker into the 21st century with this ultimate gift of the latest technology, and save room in his or her carry-on at the same time.
5. A CLOTHES SHOPPING SPREE
You need to feel and look your best when you’re standing up in front of 500 pairs of eyes all looking to you for inspiration and wisdom. It’s worth spending some real money on a great outfit or two, and your speaker will thank you for it.
6. A YEAR OF IMPROV LESSONS
Still my favorite recommendation. It’s a commitment, sure, but if you’re a serious public speaker, you need to know how to respond in the moment. And nothing improves a speaker’s ability to focus on that all-important moment like a year of Improv lessons. Improv is hard to do, very hard, but you don’t have to become an expert to benefit from the increased ability to be present on stage. And once you’ve done Improv in front of an audience, public speaking will seem comparatively easy work.
7. A PHOTO SHOOT
Don’t go cheap on your photo shoot. You want high-quality shots so that you can make a claim to being a high-quality speaker. Anything less and it looks like you’re an amateur trying to play in a pro’s game. Give your speaker the gift of a professional photographer and get it done right.
8. A SESSION WITH A VOICE COACH
Your voice is your instrument if you’re a speaker, and most people don’t treat their voices very well – and have no idea how to do so. Most speakers make a number of unforced errors due to misuse of their voice, or failure to use it fully. A really thoughtful gift is to give your speaker a couple of voice coaching sessions to help him or her let that voice soar to its greatest heights.
9. A NEW SPEAKER SIZZLE REEL
Speakers are forever chasing a better speaking video. The last one has less-than-perfect sound, or it was a bad hair day, or you muffed a line at a critical point. Whatever the reason, speakers are never happy with their videos. And they’re always out of date. So find a video company and do it right. With a little shopping around, you can find a good company at a great price.
10. A MEMBERSHIP IN AN AIRLINE CLUB
Let’s face it; the successful public speaker will spend a great deal of time in airplanes and airports in 2014. A membership in an airline club will give that grateful public speaker access to a quiet space between flights, along with the friendlier and more helpful staff to sort out those inevitable travel delays. You can get a membership by flying a lot of miles, or you can just purchase one.
What gifts have you thought of for that favorite public speaker in your family or group of friends? Let me know and we’ll get the word out before the holidays.