Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fast and short: Prepping and watching Ignite! talks

If you've ever wondered what it was like to prepare an Ignite! talk--five minutes, and 20 slides, advanced automatically whether you're ready or not--and what the experience of an Ignite! event is like, I've got two great posts for you.

First, speaking coach Olivia Mitchell, in preparing for her own Ignite! talk, shares what she considers the fastest way to prepare an Ignite! talk--knowing that it sometimes takes longer to prepare for a short presentation.

Writer Lisa Orange just attended the Ignite! DC event, and she offered The Eloquent Woman this glimpse at the proceedings and some of the presentations that caught her eye:

What would you say in five minutes, and how would you say it?

Just five minutes, and 20 slides. That’s the premise of Ignite DC, a high-energy gathering of people with ideas and the courage to put them out in front of 300+ strangers

Ignite DC #6, held earlier this month, had the flavor of a Tweetup and the velocity of a speed-dating event. Sixteen speakers each had 20 slides, which advanced automatically every 15 seconds.

Who were the speakers? Ignite’s Web site promised “artists, technologists, thinkers and personalities.” I heard from a marketing student and a life coach, a DJ and a policy analyst, an artist and a hacker, among others.

The evening’s organizers -- DC entrepreneur Jared Goralnick and public relations strategist and local blogging guru Geoff Livingston – kept the program moving. None of the 16 speakers went over their time, I noticed with admiration. Each presentation was focused, well paced and delivered with verve.

If your time is brief, a flamboyant title creates a flurry of interest right at the start. Here are some of my favorites:
  • Why Jack Bauer Needs a Nap: He’d make better decisions if he could get out from under that 24-hour stress, which must be wreaking havoc on his mind and body. Life coach Alison Horner made her point with humor and offered a gentle reminder to all.
  • Help! The title of Heather Coleman’s presentation was indeterminate, but she followed up on that exclamation point and grabbed our attention with her first words: “If you saw a naked woman running down the road, would you stop your car?” Any snickering stopped as she revealed that the woman was in the grip of severe postpartum psychosis. Tragedy was averted only by a traffic jam and some people whose names she never knew. A sobering story that encouraged listeners to reach out to strangers. 
  • I Suffer from… FOMO: Right away, the listener wonders, what is FOMO? And should I be worried? FOMO = Fear Of Missing Out, Shana Glickfield opined in a cheerfully self-deprecating sketch. Glickfield, an online communications consultant, described overbooking herself, spending too much money, and stressing out friends and relatives in an attempt to avoid what she described as “the worst thing a person with FOMO can hear: `You should have been there!’” She ended the evening with laughter, and a reminder to look away from the screen occasionally and pay attention to the live world.

 Have you given an Ignite! talk? Share your experiences in the comments.

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