From the category archives:

Speakers

We know the speakers are the stars. As organizers we do everything we can to select speakers with great topics and passions, but we also work hard to help them prepare and make sure they have what they need to do a great job.

As the Ignite Seattle speaker coach I run a coaching session that all speakers are encouraged to attend. We talk about common mistakes, tactics for preparing and answer any questions folks have. It’s informal, it’s fun and we usually feed people (hungry speakers are bad speakers). We also let speakers do a dry run and get feedback from me and other organizers. And of course speakers at Ignite are interesting people and it’s a chance to meet the folks you’ll be sharing the stage with.

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Here’s the slide deck I use that covers the basic advice, including showing speakers photos of the stage and what to expect once they’re up there.

But many other folks have written advice on preparing for Ignite. There is no right way to prepare of course and the ends are far more important than the means.
We tell speakers that since they’re speaking about something they know well and are passionate about, they could probably spend time thinking carefully about  4 or 5 stories or messages and simply practice and present that, without any slides, and do fine. We strongly recommend people develop their ideas, points and stories before they make a single slide. What you say and how you say it is by far the most important thing.

Summary of more good advice on speaking at ignite:

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Ignite Seattle 22 is next Wednesday, November 20th at Town Hall. You can buy tickets now to reserve your place. This is our list of speakers, though not neceassarily in the order they are speaking.

Steve Roth – Five Things You Don’t Know About Hamlet
Mandy Sorensen (@mandercrosby) – Superbugs: It’s What’s for Dinner.
Manuhuia Barcham – What Do You Mean the Culture is Different Here?!?
Lewis Lin (Lewis_Lin) – Negotiate Like an Angry Bride
Michael Grabham (@survivestreets) – Hey Mister, Can You Spare a Dime?

Paul Shoemaker (@paulshoeSVP) – Hacking Social Good: 3 Questions to Unlock Your Potential
Molly Bullard (@seattlephotoorg) – How to Tame Your Digital Photos
Hanne Ockert-Axelsson (@hanneoa) – Revolutionary Compassion
Christine Klimkowski (@c_klimkowski) – Ship That Matters
David Hoang (@davidhoang) – Coast-to-Coast: How to Live in Two Cities
Shannon Houghton (@MsHoughton) – We Need Math Pushers

Jeris JC Miller (@dakini_3) – Adventures with Google Glass
Darcy Burner (@DarcyBurner) – The Protest Algorithm
Sarah Schacht (@Sarahschacht) – I Got E. Coli so You Don’t Have To; How Open Data and Usability Can Prevent Food Poisoning
Shango Los (@VIMEA_grows) – Embrace Your Local Pot Farmer
Cristina McAllister (kinabutterjelly) – Reject to Lab Tech

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The next Seattle Ignite is Sunday August 18th at the Fremont Outdoor Cinema. Tickets are $5.

Here is our list of amazing 5 minute talks and speakers:

  • How video games are like kissing - Jenny Kuglin (@jenkuglin)
  • Getting geeky about Civics - Web Hutchins (@civicsforall)
  • Where my girls at? (Or, How one obvious “discovery” revolutionized my world view) -Maris McEdward (@mmcedward)
  • Gleaning molten lessons – What I learn from Glass – Pallavi Garg
  • Wobbling Is Normal – Laura Lantz
  • High school majority: I like pink, but I that doesn’t mean I cant think – Riyanka Ganguly-
  • Going Fast on One Wheel – Bruce Dawson
  • Being a Tech Entrepreneur in Baghdad - Othmane Rahmouni (@othmaner)
  • The Geek Diet – Dan Shapiro (danshapiro)
  • From Refugee to Technologist: How I’ve Used Software to Persevere - Tai Pham
  • Tap me on the shoulder if you’d like to chat -  Jason Simon (@jasonasimon)
  • Urinals. A Political and Aesthetic Expression – Christian Hagel-Sorensen (chrhage)
  • How to write your own user manual - Heidi Miller
  • An hour of coding for every student in America - James Gwertzman (gwertz)
  • Baby, I Was Born This Way! (Or Why A Polish Psychologists Let Me Know I’m Sane Amy Voros (coachaddamy)

(Note: this is not necessary the order speakers will appear)

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Ignite organizer Randy Stewart gave an Ignite talk on How to Pitch an Ignite talk. I’ve written up and revised his points here in a blog post for easier reading. Following this advice should improve the odds your talk will get in.

Important Facts

  • Talks are strictly 5 minutes long with automated slides. You can speak about anything, but all talks must consist of 20 slides, each timed to be on screen for 15 seconds, for a total of 5 minutes (Similar to Pecha-Kucha). It’s an exciting and dynamic format and if you’ve never seen an Ignite talk, watch some.
  • There are only 16 slots / we average 60 submissions. This means far more people are rejected than accepted. This is competitive so bring your A game. But don’t take it personally if you’re rejected – these slots are precious and you’re competing with Seattle’s best.
  • The organizers meet to vote on who get accepted. We review all submissions, with a short window of time for discussing each submission. We quickly filter out poorly written, under-thought or vague ones.
  • Your submission will be reviewed in a huge spreadsheet (shown below). Submissions that are concise, clear, compelling or funny prove to us you’ll do well in the Ignite format, where you’ll have similarly tough constraints.
  • 98% of speakers at Ignite are glad they did it. Ignite is challenging but a great professional and personal opportunity. If you’re going to submit, do it right.

Invest in a great title

Spend the time necessary to come up with a great title. By demonstrating you can name your talk something simultaneously descriptive, informative, compelling and perhaps funny, you prove you’re worthy of a slot on our stage. Ignite is about concision. Show us you’re good at this. By working hard on the title I promise you, the talk itself will improve.

When the organizers meet to review submissions, we look at a giant spreadsheet of the submission data (see below). It’s overwhelming. An easy way to cut through the noise is to give us a strong quality signal in your title.

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Good titles distill big ideas into a single, easy to evaluate sentence. We read the descriptions of course, but nothing gives us more confidence in you than your title.

Good titles from past Ignites include:

  • SCRUM management for wedding planning
  • Fighting Dirty in Scrabble
  • Hacking Birth
  • Commut-A-Pult
  • Build your own Standing Desk
  • Welcome to the Psych Ward
  • What cities can learn from Burning Man
  • How Science is Destroying My Childhood

These titles express an interesting angle on a topic. These angle choices can make a seemingly boring topic suddenly fascinating. It’s easy to imagine what the talks will contain, and even when it’s hard to imagine, they are compelling enough that we’d want to find out.

As opposed to failed topic submissions like these:

  • Generic management advice from a Fortune 1000 company 
  • Why I don’t mind Subway sandwiches
  • Ten ways to do something even I don’t care about
  • How web 8.0 disruption widgets will bore the world to tears

Share your passion on any topic

Although Ignite has geek origins, there are no restrictions on your choice of topic. Although many of our talks have practical/geek themes, if we’re convinced you’re telling a great story, any topic goes. Over the years we’ve had one armed jugglers, street musicians and some dramatic personal stories that would be appropriate for The Moth or This American Life (if they were on speed).

We expect three things from you regarding topics:

  1. You’re passionate about it
  2. You’re knowledgeable (enough that you know more than most of the audience)
  3. You’ll share that passion and knowledge in ways the audience can connect with

Don’t pitch your business

Talks pitching your product, startup or consulting business will be automatically rejected. Don’t even try. We’ve made this mistake in the past and everyone in the audience knows in 10 seconds what you’re doing and they will hate you for it, and us for letting you on stage.

We do want you to promote yourself, but solely as someone who has given a great Ignite talk. It’s ok to tell your story provided it’s not centered on selling something. We have had speakers talk about something they invented or how they started a company (Rich Johnston from Vertical World) or a non-profit organization, but the focus was on the lessons and stories, rather than promoting anything. Think of your talk as a self-contained creation, and not a tool for some other purpose.

A good example of balancing self-promotion with giving an excellent talk is I Stalk Strangers Online (great title) by Carmen Hudson. Her talk was about her job as a tech headhunter and she successfully focused on sharing secrets and insider knowledge – it never felt like she was pitching her services, since she wasn’t. But here I am talking about her and her excellent talk (see how this works?)

How to submit your talk

Submissions open a month before the Ignite event. The form to fill out is always found here.

If you have questions, leave a comment.

 

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Seattle singer-songwriter Tae Phoenix walks the audience through how she takes a song from inspiration to finished product.

Tae Phoenix is a singer-songwriter living and playing in Seattle, WA. You can find out where she’s playing live and listen to her music at www.taephoenix.com

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What exactly *is* introversion? It’s commonly misunderstood as shyness or a misanthropic desire to be left alone. Many extroverts mistakenly assume that introverts hate them. And that’s simply not true (well, most of the time). And many introverts think that there’s something wrong with themselves, something broken that they can’t seem to fix. And that’s not true, either.

We can do better. In this talk from Ignite Seattle 19, Jonathon Colman dishes on what introversion is, what it isn’t, and specific tactics to hack ourselves and our interactions with others in order to survive in our extroverted world.

Jonathon Colman is a content strategist, SEO & Internet marketer, speaker, and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer living (and drinking coffee) in Seattle, Washington. For over 15 years he’s helped people and organizations build, find, and use the best stuff on the Web.

You can reach him at www.jonathoncolman.org.

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Networking: The RPG – (or Everything I Need to Know About Networking I Learned From Playing D&D) – Adam Philipp

May 9, 2013

Are you a geek? An Introvert? Afraid of the crowds? Not sure what they will make of you? But you still want to connect with people? Then you want to play: NETWORKING, The Role Playing Game. On your very first dungeon/networking event you can go out and: slay kobolds (meet technical recruiters) fend off orcs [...]

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Announcing the Ignite Seattle 20 Talks

May 6, 2013

We’re excited to announce the lineup for Ignite Seattle 20 on May 16th. Join us at Town Hall, talks start promptly at 8pm. Get your tickets here. Madeline Puckette – 7 Things You Never Knew About the Most Expensive Wines of the World Wine is no longer just a drink, it has become a commodity [...]

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Tonight’s Speaker Lineup for Ignite 19

February 20, 2013

Here is the final lineup for tonight’s event at Town Hall. Speakers start at 8pm and we will be live streaming the event. If you’re tweeting, please use the hashtag #IS19, you can also watch that tag and our Twitter feed for live tweeting throughout the event. 1. Tae Phoenix - How to Write a Song [...]

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Build Your Own Standing Desk – Larry Swanson

February 11, 2013

In what became the very first standing Ignite Seattle talk, office fitness expert Larry Swanson gives a great introduction to the health benefits of standing desks and presents a number of inventive DIY standing desk designs. Be sure to stand up before you hit play.

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Forgiveness in Three Easy Steps – Matthew Lawrence

February 6, 2013

It’s easy to hold onto anger and resentment for a lifetime. But why? Especially when forgiveness feels so damned good. Seattle’s Matthew Lawrence shares his story of getting unstuck through forgiveness in this great talk from Ignite Seattle 18.

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Relating to Loved Ones with Dementia – Amy Harris

February 4, 2013

Our parents and friends get older all the time, and sooner or later we’re going to have to help them deal with serious medical issues. Amy Harris, an expert on Dementia, has some advice for all of us.

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Petty Officer School of Management – Collin Henry

January 30, 2013

Collin Henry sees important parallels between his work leading a team of engineers for SimplyMeasured and what he learned about Petty Officers in the Navy from their famous BlueJacket Manual.

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The Definition of Running – Josh Maher

January 23, 2013

Toddlers run and run and run like crazy. Adults, not so much. Josh Maher explains why we grown-ups should give running – particularly barefoot running – another go. Was he wearing those wacky toe shoes while giving his talk? Heck yeah he was.

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How to write a good bio

January 22, 2013

Many good people write bad bios for themselves. We want you to sound as awesome as you are so please take our advice. These five simple rules make writing bios take less time, less effort and make everyone happy to learn something about you. 1. The more impressive you are, the shorter your bio can [...]

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Know Your China – Lois Wang

January 21, 2013

It’s a big country that’s getting bigger – socially, politically and commercially. But how well do you know your China? In this talk, Lois Wang shares her theories about this culture on the other side of the world, and how to use some principles of consumer psychology to – and I quote – “sell them [...]

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