As a speaker, we should always be ready for the unexpected…

I often say that as an invited speaker for a conference or as a teacher for a course, we need to be ready for the unexpected and be prepared for every situation that could happen. This means for example, to bring special cables or adapters that may be needed to give a talk in a new location, to have at least two copies of our presentation on different supports (e.g. laptop, USB, or email), and to arrive earlier to avoid being late.

Today, is such a day where the unexpected happened. I was a keynote speaker yesterday at an AI Innovation Think Thank forum in Shanghai, and was supposed to fly immediately after to another city (Changchun) in the evening to give another talk the next day. Long story short, the flight was delayed from 8 PM to 10 PM, and then to 4 AM before being cancelled. Thus, I only slept a few hours, and had to deal with many problems to obtain refunds from the airline company. And given that I would visibly be unable to attend the conference on time, I contacted the organizers early so that we arrange for my talk to be online. I also recorded a video of my talk in the morning that I sent to the organizers, so that they could play it if the network connection is bad for whatever reasons. This is something that was not requested but can truly make a difference as I often saw online talks in conferences were we could barely hear the speaker due to a poor internet connection, and I don’t want this to happen!

Then, as I still had to still fly from airport, I had to give my keynote talk from the airport, and find a quiet place to do it from there before boarding another flight to return home. Thus, I went early to airport to find a suitable place, and the internet connection was very good and I installed myself on a cart in a quiet place.

Also, it helps that I carry with me a portable RODE shotgun microphone that I can use to give a professional sound to my talks while on the go. This type of microphone is very good for an environment like an airport as it focuses on the sound that is directly in front of the microphone and mostly ignore surrounding noise.

I also carry with an excellent pair of headphones.

And sometimes, I also carry a tripod, a portable light, and a noise filter for my microphone as well (but not this time). But here is some pictures of different accessories that I sometimes use with a portable tripod in different situations:

I also like to carry with me a laptop stand for working on the go:

And something very useful is to have a mouse. But not any mouse. I personally highly recommend the Logitech MX Anywhere. It is a portable computer mouse that can work on basically any kind of materials, even on glass, clothing, … anything!

This is perfect when travelling. You can be sure that the mouse can be used anywhere.

So this was just a short blog post to say, that it is always better to be ready for the unexpected 🙂 If you had some similar stories of unexpected things that happened to you, please share with me in the comments below.

By the way, I did not write on the blog for a little while as I had a lot of things going on recently. Now, it is better. I will post more in the coming weeks.

Philippe Fournier-Viger is a distinguished professor working in China and founder of the SPMF open source data mining software.

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