Powerpoint, but only for five minutes, for better or worse.
June 8, 2012 3:08 PM   Subscribe

Have you ever seen an Ignite presentation? What do you like and/or dislike about them?

I've been asked to give one about bookstores. I'm going to talk about this bookstore model. Any advice?
posted by Toekneesan to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I've done one and seen two evenings of them.

Set it up like a MeFi post: Don't be preachy, don't make it a call to action.

From a presenter's perspective: Don't try to memorize your talk or time it to your slides. Put things on your slide that will jog what you want to talk about. If you fall behind, drop stuff. People interested in the detail will come talk to you later. Don't try to over-prepare.
posted by straw at 3:17 PM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is my favorite one. Good talk, quite fast, a little funny and making GOOD use of the fact that unlike most presentations there is an enormous screen and really good technology. So you can have big slightly complicated slides if you want. The guy has his presentation down, there's not even that much information in it but it's all targeted at the general thesis. His approach is "I'm eager to share these ideas with you because they will help you" and I think that's a good general mindset.

On your general topic I'd include at least a little input from the various stakeholders being like THIS IS GREAT BECAUSE _______ and use that to lead off talking about the different parts of this idea and why it works for everyone. Good luck, I'm looking forward to seeing it when you're done.
posted by jessamyn at 3:25 PM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

I did one, and seeing Scott Berkun's video helped me prepare for it:

I'm in the tiny minority, but I don't personally follow the "don't overprepare" advice. The argument is that you'll come off sounding stiff and robotic if you're trying to memorize, but if I don't, I sound worse than robotic, I sound like this:

"Uhhh, right, so [topic] ... and then ... uhhh ... right ... so it's [topic], which - oops, ok, so then [topic]"

Some people pull off the "don't over-prepare" thing really well. But most talks I see are not high quality. I believe preparation would help.

The only robots I've ever seen are reading from their slides or notecards. Just don't do that.
posted by jragon at 3:27 PM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

The good ones I've seen:

*Took a small topic and went into depth, with specific and concrete details

*Usually had a narrative structure

The bad ones:

*Were thinly-veiled self promotion

*Were too technical/mathy/scientific for the majority of the audience to follow

*Closely related to the above, were comprehensible, but on topics that were just incredibly boring, usually related to the presenter's job

*Tried to give a broad overview of a topic (which is impossible to do at a better-than-Wikipedia level in 5 minutes) or argue a thesis (you *can* argue a thesis compellingly and interestingly in an Ignite talk but it's very very difficult to pull off if your thesis is more complex than "You, too, can learn to knit a sweater out of dog hair!")

I thought that people getting out of synch with their slides would be a huge problem, but oddly, it really wasn't for the talks that I saw.

So for example, if you're talking about a bookstore model, maybe go into some detail about *this* specific bookstore, have a funny story about the owner and make people care and get into it, etc.
posted by phoenixy at 3:37 PM on June 8, 2012

Also, be passionate.

There was one ignite where the presenter talked about how he built a fence around his backyard telescope with PVC and black fabric. Nothing really novel or interesting about the topic, but you could tell that he was really into telescopes, and this was A Big Deal for him.

His being passionate was awesome, and totally saved his presentation. You could tell public speaking was not his thing, but he did it, and let his passion show through, and he practically received standing ovation for his effort.
posted by jpeacock at 3:47 PM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

jpeacock, was that in Seattle a few years ago?
posted by jragon at 3:52 PM on June 8, 2012

We did Ignite presentations at my workplace after I saw a bunch of them online. I don't know if we followed the "proper" format, other than the number of slides in the number of minutes, auto-advancing, but the ones everyone loved were always just about on the edge of "OMG, this presenter is getting through a ton of stuff, really well, and is really slick with it."

So be very prepared, have your slides be impressive, and give information that people will find interesting and fun.
posted by xingcat at 5:16 PM on June 8, 2012

I did one last year. Here is my brain dump on what I learned. And here is the actual presentation.
posted by COD at 7:19 PM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding everything phoenixy said. I went to one of these in Boston a few months ago, and the worst one was a call to action on an incredibly generic topic that was all empty rhetoric and no concrete steps/examples/etc. The best ones were funny, had specific information that was practicable/brand-new findings that were interesting, the person delivering didn't take themselves too seriously, and kept the pace up.

Remember, five minutes really *isn't* that long, so really hone down what you want your audience to walk away with. Have concrete takeaways. Have actual information. Keep it moving, and it will be great!
posted by smirkette at 7:44 PM on June 8, 2012

Haha, smirkette, I think we both went to the same event because I'm pretty sure I know which presentation you're talking about (well, there were kind of two that met that description, one near the start with a female presenter, one near the end with a male presenter). By contrast, this was an example of one of the better presentations from the same event.
posted by phoenixy at 8:16 PM on June 8, 2012

jragon, yep.
posted by jpeacock at 8:57 AM on June 9, 2012

Awesome, that was the night I presented too. I was the "here's some stuff I learned in the ten years since art school" guy.
posted by jragon at 1:11 PM on June 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've done a couple ignite talks and I'd say two things jumped out to me:

- practice the shit out of your talk, give yourself almost a week in advance to go over the slides. You can still be spontaneous and add bits here and there (don't time every slide to the second, you may have to pause for laughter or effect sometimes).

- have as little text as possible on your slides. Don't do bullet points of three sentences of info, no one can read those in 20 seconds and listen to you at the same time. Put 5 words or less on each slide, just a theme, so people can focus on you.

You'll do great, you have an awesome topic (future of bookstores) that any audience would love to hear ideas about, so mostly I think you'll just have to edit down all your major ideas into little 15sec chunks you can relate onstage.
posted by mathowie at 10:49 AM on June 11, 2012

Thanks a bajillion for your help folks. I was given about ten days to put this together and it went pretty well. Here's the slides and text. I went with lots of images, very little text. It was pretty well received. I practiced A LOT. The performances are still being edited. The other presenters were mostly pretty awesome too. When the performances are posted I'll share those too.

Oh, and Matt and Jessamyn, thanks for the Podcast mention. I told monkeytoes that my two greatest achievements on MetaFilter have occurred in the last month. First the fpp, and then a nod in the Podcast. Maybe it's time to click the big red button, while I'm still ahead.

(I kid, and boldly use the small tag to do it)
posted by Toekneesan at 1:59 PM on June 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Okay, here it is. For what it's worth. They're all good, but if you have the time, also watch Tanner McSwain's, immediately after mine. He's started a bookstore in Chicago using Kickstarter and it sounds like a kick ass book place. I hope they compliment each other. I start at 33:23 and Tanner's right after that.
posted by Toekneesan at 2:42 PM on July 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

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