8 tips for your Ignite presentation
So, the day is close and you need some Ignite presentation tips? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
I had great fun presenting at the inaugural Ignite Sydney last Thursday. I was more nervous about Ignite than most other presentations due to 2 key things: firstly, the relentless 15-second auto-page-turn (What if I froze?) and, secondly, I had a feeling the audience would be one of the smarter bunch of people I’d be in front of… and there must have been 200 or so in attendance.
[Before we start, if you use these tips for your Ignite presentation and find them useful, I’d love to know – please drop a comment at the bottom of the page.]
What I learnt from presenting at Ignite:
1. Get your slides finished and ready at least a week before
My G4 really wasn’t kind to me as I got my Ignite presentation together and unfortunately it took up most of my preparation time. Slightly stressful and distracting.
2. Be a story-teller, not a presenter
Even if you don’t really think your topic is ‘story-like’, find the story in it. The talks that worked best were funny, revealing, had a start and end, and simple, pretty design.
3. Play with the momentum of your talk
You don’t have to cookie-cut your presentation just because you have 20 slides to fill. You could have 2-3 mini crescendos in that time or one big crescendo with a twist. You could be silent, break into song, make a joke, invite audience interaction. Do something different. I had a beatboxer (call me a cheat!).
4. Have one key, interesting point per slide
This takes focus and ruthlessness. Make one point, substantiate or exemplify it. Then, move on.
5. Talk calmly and clearly
Frenetic speaking isn’t good communication. Nobody will remember everything you said so best to focus on clarity of point. I don’t care that you go through your thesis in 5 minutes – I didn’t remember what you were trying to tell me.
6. Find the universal truths in your topic
Even if you’re talking about technical stuff, try to find something universal in it every few slides (or every slide if you can). Assume you’re speaking to a broader audience than the people you sit next to at work. How would you explain the point you want to make to your mum?
7. Don’t do slide builds
I sometimes found this quite distracting and was confused as to whether the speaker had moved onto a new point. You are the presentation – the images are just support. Building slides distract us from what you’re saying.
8. How to remember your talk
This is definitely one of the most challenging and fun parts of Ignite. If someone forgets what they were going to say, there’d be a bit of fun in watching them crash and burn, or perhaps freestyle into something even more interesting. I really try to focus on remembering the headlines (the ones that I’ll say) for each slide so will print out the presentation, look at it then make myself call just the headlines out. I’ll also try to recite the presentation and key headlines as I drive or walk. It’s worth practising but leave some room for that in-the-moment energy.
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