Lesson Learned from Speaking at Ignite Berlin

Last night was the night! Thanks to the organizers, Yasmina, Claudia, and Peter, thanks to all of you who attended the event! I had a really great time!

I will share the video and slides soon, but right now I just wanted to share my experience and impressions from doing it. I hope this would be useful for people who are thinking about speaking at Ignite!

Talk about YOUR passion

There’s only a few events where you get to do this. It’s a stage where you get to share what you’re passionate about, package it into a compelling 5 minute talk where the open audience will ‘have to’ listen to you 😉 ! It’s your chance to introduce them to your passion. It’s truly a rare opportunity. Use it!

Ignite Format is Brutal… But FUN

When you heard about it, it seemed simple. 5 minutes, 20 slides. Sounds easy. The speakers also made it looked easy. But it’s not that simple. You have to tell a story in 5 minutes. And the 15 seconds auto advance is brutal. You don’t really have time to breathe on stage. You have to get up there and got instantly ON. No time to think anymore. On the other hand, it’s only 5 minutes. Even if you screwed up, you still would learn something. The audience is usually very supportive, and nobody going to throw a rotten tomato at you ;).

Prepare the Slides a Good Time Beforehand

This is very important. You have to allocate some time to practice and adjust the slides. If you’re an experienced public speaker, maybe you need less time. But I think it’s always good to have roughly a day extra before you have to submit the slides. It’s different than just having 20 bullet points. You have to think how long you want to talk about the points, then maybe you could only fit 15 points. Which is fine too! Then do some points in more slides… and this is why you need to have a rough practice run, so you could also adjust the slides.

Have Slides that are Forgiving with the Flow

What does this mean? Well, because you have no control of the advancing of slides, you have to think that you might go over the next slides. It should somewhat make sense to people. If you want a big pow effect, plan some mini breaks (slides you’ll just need to say one sentence about). These will also give you time to breathe… just make sure it’s an eye candy (ones that make the audience want to look at the slide). On the first slides, it’s also good to allocate some time that you might need to calm down… this is when talking about yourself comes in handy!

Have a Script of What You Wanted to Say

This really depends on how good you are. To me, it was really useful. Because I tend to either blab or went completely blank when I’m nervous. Blabbering isn’t good for Ignite because then your slide will forsake you. Also remember that there’s many ways to say what you want to say… so sentences could easily be altered to fit in that 15 seconds.

Practice, Practice, Practice!

Once you’re happy with your slide, practice! Practice while standing up, because that’s how you’re going to do it! If possible, have someone to listen to you and give you feedback. You’ll find out that sometimes you go overtime, sometimes you go under. With practicing you will (hopefully) realize what you can add/omit just in case, and not to be nervous when the slide moved forward before you finished saying something. Most of the time, though, the audience will not realize if you forgot to mention something… they’ll be just focused on you and the slides. Yasmina kept reminding me about practicing, and I’m really glad she did!!!

Have Fun on Stage

Really. Take a deep breath beforehand, have some power posing, and then just relax and have a good time! If you missed something, just smile and move on, because nobody will realize you made a mistake (unless you said it). Have some humor in your talk when possible, have them laugh at yourself sometimes, it’ll help you relax and makes the talk enjoyable. Be candid, and just be yourself!

Some Side Notes

I was actually freaking nervous before the talk, so I couldn’t sit down… instead I have to keep walking around the venue, talking and greeting people ;). When I had to sit down because the talk sequence started, I can’t really focus on any of the speaker before me. 5 minute was really a blur.

Also because I was afraid of freezing on stage, I had my notes on my phone. I had a look on the first two slides, but then I forgot to slide to next notes… so in the end I was actually winging it! Yeah!!! *pats self on the back*

The only picture I had right now from last night is from Claudia’s twitter feed. Thank you Claudia :).

Ignite Berlin Talk


Link to ignite Berlin: http://igniteberlin.com 

Twitter: @igniteberlin



Picture of me on stage, thanks to Yasmina



And last but not least: Cheers to my fellow speakers: Justin McMurray, Tony Bowden, Ben Green, Thom Cummings, Caroline Kliemt, Martin Spindler, Dan Young, Severin Matusek, Marek Plichta, Ilona Ryvkin, Chris Eidhof, and Tobias Leingruber.


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