Friday, August 12, 2011

Are you a fast talker?

Have you ever sat through a power point presentation, bored to death, eyes barely able to focus on the power point slide because it is filled with numbers and lines…..the guy/gal presenting is speaking in a monotone voice with no highs and lows to their pitch, filled with “um’s and ah’s”. Have you begun counting ceiling tiles or light fixtures or maybe even have begun pulling on a wayward thread on your sweater, hoping that somehow it will make the presentation go a bit faster? You begin thinking about spontaneous combustion and wondering if it could really happen and if it did, could it happen here, in this room, with these people, now…..during the presentation. You drift off and are startled awake by limp applause and the sudden realization that you were drooling and probably mouth breathing.

I have been to these presentations. They can certainly be a challenge to sit through. What if the challenge was the other way around? What if the challenge rested on the presenters’ shoulders? What am I talking about? I am talking about Ignite presentations; 5 minute powerhouse presentations on any subject with a power point presentation set to auto advance the slide every 15 seconds. Keep up with the slides or risk embarrassment.

Now you are interested…..right? No matter how boring the subject matter, you are going to be watching and listening and waiting to see if the presenter can get his/her point across in the 5 minute time limit. Bring on the popcorn! You will now be leaning forward in your seat, no longer pondering such things as spontaneous combustion.

Introducing the Ignite session. 20 slides, but only 15 seconds per slide before the slide auto advances. Now that is a challenge! The tagline of the Ignite session is “Enlighten us but make it quick”. It originated in Seattle in 2006 with Brady Forrest and Bre Pettis of O’Reilly Media. It took off and over 200 Ignite Sessions have been held since.

I have scheduled an Ignite session into a conference I am currently planning. We sent out a call for presentations with a couple of caveats. The first being that topics were provided; community, leadership, change or social responsibility, and the second was that they needed to name a local charity in their proposal. Why the local charity? We threw a bit of a twist into the session. We are going to have the audience vote on the best presentation and the winner will receive $1000 to pass along to their favourite local charity. It is a win win!

How did it all turn out? Well, ask me in about a month after the conference is over. I will either have a big toothy smile and a bounce in my step, or I will be seen walking along with my toes dragging, shoulders slumped and a nervous tick.

Wish me luck!

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