12 Gift Ideas for Aspiring Speakers

I am always on the lookout for unique gifts that would resonate with people’s secret aspirations. If you know someone who aspires to be a professional speaker—or perhaps someone who is already doing some speaking—then these gifts might provide you with an idea or two. (I also have a list for writers here.)

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/cclickclick, Image #10676270

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/cclickclick

I personally use all these items, and they are the “tools of choice” in my own speaking. I have tried to include gift ideas at a variety of price levels. I have arranged the list from least expensive to most expensive. Hopefully, you can find just the perfect gift for a friend or maybe even yourself!

Gift Suggestion Amount
The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs Book Admittedly, I am a big fan of Steve Jobs. Without question, he is my favorite business presenter. He is passionate, articulate, and polished. In The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, author Carmine Gallo talks about “How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience” (the book’s subtitle). He deconstructs the ingredients that make Steve great and shows you how to use them in your own presentations. $14.93
Made to Stick Book Made to Stick is my favorite general communications book. The authors, Chip and Dan Heath talk about why some ideas and survive and some die. Drawing extensively on their study of memory, emotion, and motivation, they analyze the concept of “stickiness.” Using the mnemonic, SUCCES (sic), the authors outline six key principles—Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotions and Stories—for making your ideas more sticky. $17.16
Beyond Bullet Points Book Beyond Bullet Points is the first book that really got me to thinking about the limitations of bulleted slides. You know the type, where the presenter simply reads his slides to you one after another until you fall into a hypnotic trance. Cliff Atkinson, the author, teaches you the fine art of classical story-telling and you can apply it to almost any presentation. $19.79
Slide:ology Book In terms of actually preparing your slide deck, slide:ology is the best book available. Nancy’s agency creates some of the most beautiful slideshows you have ever seen, including the slides for Al Gore’s now-famous speech, “An Inconvenient Truth.” I have personally worked with her agency and can vouch for her design savvy. The book is down-to-earth and practical with dozens and dozens of real world examples. $23.09
Presentation Zen Book Presentation Zen is a great companion to slide:ology This book extols the virtue of simplicity, instilling in me the conviction that every slide should make a singular point—and only one point. His book is a wonderful departure from the brain-numbing types of slideshow presentations we take for granted in corporate America. If you want to stand out from the crowd, this is a good place to begin. $23.09
Keyspan Remote Control I have tried half a dozen different slideshow remotes. I’ve used the native one that comes with Apple laptops, along with the iPhone version. However, I keep coming back to the Keyspan Easy Presenter remote. The main thing I like about it is that it is simple and really small. It fits in the palm of my hand, so the audience can’t even really see it. It makes advancing slides look like magic. $37.96
Box Shot 3D Yes, you can create beautiful 3D books, software boxes, and brochures with Photoshop—if you are a professional designer. But for the rest of us BoxShot 3D is the easy alternative. As the CEO of a publishing company and a big believer in the value of reading, I refer to a lot of books in my presentations. This program makes it simple to create stunning book 3D covers, boxes, and more. $60.00
OmniOutliner Software I am an outliner by nature. I literally think in outlines. I always start preparing a speech by starting with an extensive outline. OmniOutliner Professional is the best outlining tool I have found. It is intuitive and easy to use. It also has enormous flexibility. It simply works the way my mind works, making it easy to get the thoughts out of my head and into a form I can organize and begin to package. $66.99
iWork Software I used to use PowerPoint for my slide presentations. Once I saw Apple Keynote (part of the iWork suite), I chunked PowerPoint for good. In my opinion, Keynote offers a professional edge that is unparalleled. It is easier to use, deals with type beautifully, and offers jaw-dropping transitions and effects. If you want to present like Steve Jobs, you can start by using the software he uses. $72.99
Zoom H2 Handy Portable Stereo Recorder I try to record all my speeches. This was always a hassle until I discovered the Zoom H2 Digital Recorder. It is super easy to use and the audio quality is superb. When I am done recording, I connect the device to my laptop via a USB cable and copy the mp3 files to my hard drive. They are then immediately available for editing or uploading to my server. It runs on either batteries or a power cord. $141.29
The SCORRE Conference The SCORRE Conference is a one-of-a-kind educational opportunity for speakers. It teaches you exactly how to craft your presentations so they hit the target. I use this method in my own speech preparation and even in my blog writing. This is the best investment an aspiring speaker can make in his or her career. It’s not cheap, but it’s worth every penny. $999.00
13.3 Inch MacBook Air I used to be a die-hard Windows user. Then I saw a friend of mine make a presentation using a Mac and was blown away. At first, I bought a Mac with the intention of only using it for presentations. But it eventually stole my heart, and I have never looked back. In my humble opinion, nothing tops a Mac when it comes to producing compelling slideshows. This is the model I currently use: the 13.3″ MacBook Air. It is the best computer I have ever owned. $1,499.00
Question: What other gift ideas do you have for aspiring speakers? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://www.womenlivingwell-courtney.blogspot.com Women Living Well

    Wow! Thanks for the great list! I've had "Made To Stick" on my book list to purchase for a long time but somehow it always fell to the bottom of the list…but since you are referring it – I'll be sure to move it up to the top the next time I place a book order! Thanks!


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    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I’ve read it through twice, which I almost never do. It is awesome!

  • http://www.jodyfransch.com Jody Fransch

    Hi Mike, I’m an aspiring speaker. Just starting out and learning as much as I can, at the moment still speaking for free. Within the next few years I hope to establish myself as a prominent speaker within Zimbabwe and southern Africa…and who knows, maybe even internationally!

    I really appreciate your gift ideas, coming from you I know they ALL trustworthy and great value for money. With Christmas coming up, I think I’m gonna give this list to my family and then see what turns up in my Christmas stocking come Decemer 25:)

  • http://marlataviano.com Marla Taviano

    I'll take the MacBook Pro!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      It was one of the best investments I ever made. It will take your presentations to a whole new level.

  • http://ronlane.wordpress.com Ron


    Thanks for the gift ideas. I like the clicker and the voice recorder.

    One question, when are you going to make those speech recording available on your website? I'm sure that they are worth sharing.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      My wife keeps asking me the same thing!

      • http://ronlane.wordpress.com Ron

        She's smart lady, you should listen to her and your readers ;)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/JasonWert JasonWert

    Thanks, Michael. These give me some good starting points as I explore if this is what God wants me to be doing. The Summit looks really good but there's no way I can afford it this year. (Not that I have the money & don't want to invest in the career…I literally do not have it. Hopefully in 2011.)

    A quick question, though…if someone's not talking about business items is it necessary to use slides/PowerPoint/iWork? As I've been pondering what I'd like to share with others to try and help them avoid some pitfalls in life I don't really picture having a slide show presentation as part of the mix.
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    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      No, I definitely don't think a slideshow is imperative. I use one about 60% of the time. Often, when I am making a Keynote presentation (as opposed to a workshop), I go without slides.

      Slides are there to augment your presentation not replace it. If they help, great. If they detract, chunk 'em!

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  • http://intensedebate.com/people/williamguice williamguice

    How about the iPhone Keynote Remote? I love being able to just flick between slides, see my notes, and allow people to text me during my teachings. That way I can get real time feedback.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      I know people who love it. Me? Not so much. It's just too big. I want something inconspicuous that fits in the palm of my hand. The Keyspan is perfect for that.

  • http://www.thinknextnow.com Mark Cox

    Communicating for a Change by Andy Stanley was one of the things that completely re-routed my speaking habits – might be a good gift!
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  • http://intensedebate.com/people/klreed189 Kyle Reed

    These are great, I am going to check out that Steve Jobs book.

  • http://www.twitter.com/danieldecker Daniel Decker

    I'm not done reading it yet but so far "Confessions of a Public Speaker" by Scott Berkun (O'Reilly books) is insightful with good tips on what great communicators do. http://bit.ly/confofpublicspeaker (Amazon link)

    Also "Communicating for a Change" by Andy Stanley (as someone else noted above). GREAT book about focus of a message. http://bit.ly/commforchange (Amazon link)

    Many other things I'd suggest too that aren't as much about the "tools" to aid in the message or its delivery but the tools / resources that help a speaker actually get booked for a gig. :) We'll save that for another day.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Daniel. Andy is great—on nearly any topic. He is definitely one of my top five communication examples.

  • Colleen Coble

    Wow, those look great! I will tell the kids and hubby which ones I want. :-)

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      That's the spirit!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/chrishuff chrishuff

    Thinking back on the Saturday Night LIve skit with Chris Farley where he is a motivational speaker – living in a van. He's talking with a family and trying to get the kids to straighten up. it's really funny.
    I'm NOT knocking speakers – just reminded me of the skit.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      There are actually a series of skits with him as a motivational speaker on SNL. I almost fell out of my chair when I watched them. They are really, really funny! Thanks for reminding me about them.

  • Dion Govender

    Thanks Michael, I’ve just added “Made to Stick” to my read list for the holidays. I recently moved over to a 15′ Macbook Pro from PC, I have just one regret… Why didn’t I move over sooner. I’m in sales and I have to say presenting has to be the highlight of my job.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      That benefit alone makes it worth switching. I occasionally have to use the Windows operating system on my Mac (via Parallels), and I always wonder why I put up with it for so long.

  • http://twitter.com/JeffHenderson @JeffHenderson

    Michael – I think Andy Stanley and Lane Jones' book "Communicating for a Change" is a must-read as well.

  • Brian Stewart

    Thank you for this excellent list. I just purchased the Keyspan Easy Presenter remote using your link and am looking at Book Shot 3D.

  • Brian Stewart

    When you are speaking using a microphone, do you just place the Zoom H2 Digital Recorder right in front of you, on the podium?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

    I actually use a mic stand, but you can also put it on the podium. I have done that before. Thanks.

  • http://www.toastmasters.org David Richmond

    The author left out one of the most important things you can give an aspiring speaker: A membership in Toastmasters.

  • Brian Stewart

    Still shopping from your list! And have a question.

    Have you ever used the Zoom Q3 Handy Video Recorder ($249)?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/michaelhyatt Michael Hyatt

      No, I haven't. Only the audio recorder. Thanks.

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  • http://www.24giftshop.com Barry Bowden

    We spend some considerable time searching for unique gifts to send to our dear ones on crucial occasions and parties. Sending the right present on the right time becomes more crucial when somebody is living away from his / her family. Your present concepts are nice according the situation and thanks for shairing such ideas.

  • http://twitter.com/jerburroughs Jeremy Burroughs

    Thanks for the recommendations Michael. I will definitely check these out.

  • http://sparkvoice.wordpress.com/ DS

    I would suggest Zig Ziglar’s “Better Than Good” audio book.  Excellent points, and offers an excellent example of a dynamic speaker.