I seem to have always had jobs in which I schlep. As a traveling sex educator several years ago, a coworker of mine would often text me on a Sunday night with a photo of her packed car with the caption “I schlep, therefore I am.” I am indeed. As I’ve made the transition to self-employment, not only does my car remain full of stuff, but my home office is bursting with gadgets as well. So besides my computer, what all does someone like me need to haul around anyway?
Pelvis, fake placenta, other very normal things. Of course my sex education work is responsible for some of the funniest items in my trunk. I like to be creative with all of my training work though, and it’s not unusual for me to show up to an event in a all-business blazer with a toy brain or an adapted board game under my arm. “Are you the...expert we hired?” Yes. Yes I am.
Projector. Many of my event spaces have a projector and other great technology built into the facility. That is my favorite! However, even when I’ve facilitated in top-notch, tech-savvy environments, I bring my back-up projector just in case. Because I rely so much on other pedagogical tools, if my workshop requires slides, the slides are important to see. Technology fails all the time. And you really look like a professional if you can calm the worried hosts by telling them you basically run a Radio Shack out of your Kia hatchback.
Adapters. Mac or PC? Which Mac or PC? One of the most important trainings of my career ended up being one of my hardest because the one adapter I thought I needed to plug my MacBook into projectors turned out to be one adapter of many, depending on the technology of what I was plugging in to. I now own all of the adapters.
Chargers and batteries. The minute you find yourself thinking “I probably have enough charge for this hour long training,” congratulate yourself on your ability to remain so positive this long into your adulthood and then pack the charger. Or the batteries. Whatever. Do it.
Speakers. Your computer speaker isn’t enough, and like everything else on the list, bring your own as a back-up to what the venue promises you. If you timed 20 minutes of your training to be taken up by a video and you end up without speakers, you better have an interpretative dance version instead.
Phone or camera. Especially in my first year of working for myself, I am still collecting videos and photos of my work for my website and social media. Sometimes I set them up on a timer, and often I just tell a person hosting or attending the event what I need and they are more than happy to help me capture some of the day.
Remote slide advancer. Being able to advance slides or images while I’m walking around the room is crucial to my attendees feeling connected to me. I don’t want to be stuck at a podium clicking an arrow key.
Handouts. I try to avoid printing too much paper because 1)how am I going to preach creating a better world when I use up it’s resources to do so? And 2) most handouts I get at trainings are not helpful. If you want people to process and puzzle through things, ask them to bring a journal, and bring some blank paper for those who forget. Evidence shows that we learn best when we write things down anyway, so guide them verbally and have them internalize more of the language.
Sign-in sheet. If you’re being paid by a grant, you may be required to keep certain records. If you’re like me and don’t answer to anyone but your clients, a sign-in sheet with email addresses is a crucial marketing tool. Add people to your newsletter so they can keep up with you--and hire and refer you.
Any give-aways. If I have an incentive for folks coming to a focus group, or if I’m running a group that has a maker-space component like collage, I basically add on another box of stuff. I’m now a Radio Shack and a craft store.
Snacks, lunch, water. I have to keep hydrated when I am expected to be speaking for several hours, projecting my voice out into a room. I also pack snacks to keep me going, and if lunch isn’t provided at the event, that too. I have several times realized that I spent a good chunk of my paycheck from a training needing to buy lunch midday, and spend most of my hour of downtime searching for a vegetarian meal in southern Indiana.
So now if you see me staggering into your office under the weight of all of these things, you can stop making the joke, “Moving in?!” Not unless my Chief Inspiration Officer can come too.