Sean McDowell | January 12, 2021

5 Things Public Speakers Need to Have

I have been speaking at conferences, universities, camps, churches and some other events for over two decades. Along the way, I have learned some practical tips that may help if you are (or want to be) a public speaker. Here’s five suggestions for things to consider carrying with you if you speak publicly.

1. Cologne or Perfume. My dad recently gave me a Perfume Pod, which be filled with perfume or cologne and easily sprayed on. It’s reliable and smaller than carrying around Axe spray. I try to remember to spray it on both before and after I speak. People notice if you smell good (and bad!).

2. Mints. Tic tacs. Breath Savers. Altoids. Nearly any mint will do. Sometimes I get a cup of coffee before speaking, which can result in really bad breath. So, carry some mints (or gum) with you for when you meet people before or after speaking.

3. Medical Tape. This might be the best tip. I keep a role of transparent surgical tape in my backpack and use it to secure “over ear” microphones. Some venues have overhead mics that work fine, but many have “over ear” microphones that can be flimsy and fickle. Sometimes I tape the mic to my cheek and other times behind my ear. With tape, I almost never have sound issues.

4. Instant Stain Remover. Recently I spilled on the front of my shirt before speaking to hundreds of educators. The host bailed me out with Prespot, which I simply rubbed on, and then the stain was virtually gone. I now carry a small bottle in my backpack at all times.

5. Sharp Shoes. Alright, this one is a little tongue-in-cheek, but I love wearing sharp shoes. When my son was 15, he said, “Dad, if a speaker walks on stage with a pair of Jordan’s, I will listen.” He was only half kidding. It’s amazing how many young people notice when I wear superhero shoes or a pair of Jordan’s. People remember, and it’s a great conversation starter.

Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author, popular speaker, and part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell, TikTok, Instagram, and his blog: