Ignite Denver

Occasionally it occurs to me that I didn’t do much sharing after my spark at ignite (way back in February). So here’s the recap. (ignite is an event where anyone can give a five minute speech, a “spark,”on any topic. You prepare 20 slides, and they auto-advance every 15 seconds.)

I feel like I should be more self deprecating but…too bad. I was really happy with how it turned out. I practiced, practiced, practiced and so even though I was nervous onstage, I had run through my talk so many times, I could have done it in my sleep. Like in my head in the moment, I was a little worried that the entire audience would be distracted by how much my knees were shaking, but in the video I look cool and confident and well practiced. Because I was. Funny that.

And you guys, my hair looks so good. Of all my takeaways, I’m seriously so pleased with how long and shiny my hair is in this video.

It was really nice having friends in the audience, I think there were about 300 people there total and I had about a dozen in my cheering section. I was the last speaker before intermission, so it was really fun to be able to finish and then go talk to my friends right away.

Buuut…awkward. Then everyone who came with me left at intermission. Leaving a big 12-person sized hole towards the front of the theater. At the time for some reason I found this embarrassing, but clearly it wasn’t the end of the world.

I had a blast, and I’d recommend it to anyone with the time and interest. It was harder than I thought to match a talk to the 15 second slides. I estimate I put in close to 20 hours writing my talk, putting together the slides, searching for free/uncopyrighted images to use, and of course practicing over and over. I had a few jokes that were timed to the change of a slide, and it took a lot of rehearsal to get those timings down just right.

My advice to anyone else planning to speak at an ignite event?

One, have a clear message. Twenty slides of memes might get you some laughs, but you still need some engaging content.

Two, practice 900 billion times, enough so if you get really nervous, your brain can go on auto-pilot and still finish.

Three, get (and use) feedback. We had a mandatory rehearsal a week before the event. Some of the speakers got feedback like, “I was confused about this part of your talk” and then…it was exactly the same in their actual spark.

Four, make sure you include your twitter handle somewhere in your deck so you can connect with people in the audience. And then shamelessly brag by posting screenshots of people complimenting you.

Screen Shot 2013 06 02 at 2 56 30 PM

I also found it helpful to drink one beer before going on (and then several after) but to each her own.

The next one in Denver is June 13th. I will be there, enjoying being in the audience, but I’m definitely mulling over topics to maybe try again for the next one. How to ride your bike like a lady? Nine ways to wear yellow cardigans? Semi-colons are your friend; do not abuse them?

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