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March 11, 2010 / marden928

IGNITE NYC speaking – me this time!

So, that’s me, giving a 5 minute PowerPoint about PowerPoint at Ignite NYC – the        Brooklyn edition.  13 of us got up and spoke for 5 minutes, with 20 slides, each slide  moving at 15 seconds whether we were ready or not.  Some of my co-presenters enjoy some fame:  Andy Carven from NPR, Cindy Gallop of TED and massive advertising fame, and honestly the list goes on and on.  Lots of folks who will be very famous in the future, no doubt.  Folks I’m very honored to have been speaking with.  Check them out here:  http://ignitenyc.squarespace.com/speakers/

But hey, it wouldn’t be my blog if I didn’t give you some lessons and observations from the overall experience, would it?   That’s right, it sure wouldn’t!

I know I’m always telling you to practice.  This is one format that one really really needs to practice for!  Every single one of my fellow speakers, even the famous ones who speak all the time, was freaking out.  Why?  Because the slides changed every 15 seconds whether we were ready or not.  That really almost makes it a memorized monologue with definitive time cues.

I noticed that the folks that saw it as a monologue and really practiced the poop out of their presentation did the best.  The folks that had general gists of what they wanted to speak about, didn’t do as well.  In some cases, they’d go on and on and one for a full minute for one slide, only to realize that their visuals had moved on ahead of them.  That’s frequently OK, but maybe not best practice.  There are some things about  this format that translate to any presentation:

  • Grab your audience quickly. You don’t have much time to gain attention.
  • Keep your energy level up. Even with 15 seconds a slide, you can loose enrgy if you ramble.
  • Keep your content in line with your visuals (and vice versa:  choose the right visuals for your content). The wrong visual can be confusing and can leave your audience wondering if you’re off script.
  • Stay on topic. Yes, you know a lot about your subject – it’s why you’re speaking after all.  But your audience really just wants the big points and your huge insights that they may not know themselves.
  • Have some humor.  It’s amazing how far a little humor can take you through a presentation.  One guy was totally off his schedule and just acknowledged it, which proved to be a lot of fun for the audience.  The one guy who was off his schedule and didn’t entirely acknowledge it didn’t really win as many points with the audience (though his topic was freaking awesome).

If you have the opportunity to attend and Ignite night, I highly suggest you do.  They’re a fantastic time!

To learn more, go here:  http://ignite.oreilly.com/

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