5 Tips For a Killer Ignite Talk:
We do this exercise in the workshops called “Log Lines”. It’s designed to help distill your message down into its most basic form and it works wonders. Too many words, too many concepts, too much of anything actually and you risk losing your audience before you even get warmed up. If you can’t summarize what you want to say in one or two sentences then try again, and keep trying until you can strip it down to the bare essentials. Simplify.
- Be Passionate
I’m not saying you have to go all Tony Robbins or anything like that, but a genuine enthusiasm for your topic goes a long way. If you don’t look interested in your topic there is a very slim chance anyone else will be. Speak from the heart.
- Tell a Story
The hardest part of preparing any Ignite talk is teasing out the narrative. This is something that my speaker coordinator colleagues and spend the most time on during the workshops. There are lots of great ideas that get discussed, but the ones that end up with a person on stage are the ones that can tell a story. Every story has a beginning, a middle, and an end and your Ignite talk is no different. Think of your talk as a three-act play: hook them early, have some ups and downs along the way, then drive the point home with something memorable. The good thing about this concept is that even if can always take something interesting and make it entertaining. Beginning. Middle. End.
- People Remember Funny
Understandably, not everyone can be a comedian and not every talk can be all laughs, but even a serious talk with a well-placed moment of levity will stick in people’s minds. John Cleese, a veritable king of comedians, says to be aware that there’s a difference between serious and solemn and that some of the funniest moments he’s experienced have come during a well delivered eulogy. Quite simply, people love to laugh, and if you can share a nugget of information with them while doing it then you’ve done your job. Laugh it up, fuzz ball.
- AVOID: selling, preaching, or pandering
While people love to laugh, they hate to be targeted, made to feel guilty, or be underestimated. Ignite is about sharing a little bit of Waterloo Region culture that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. It’s not a sales conference or a venture capital rodeo. You’ve got an attentive audience for 5 minutes or less and you’re just one of 16 to 20 they will see that night. They should want to seek you out and have a conversation with you about your topic after the event, not wonder what your angle is or how much money you need to crowd source The Next Big Thing. Less is more.