How and Why to Give an Ignite Talk – Scott Berkun

Editor’s Note – this post is completely ripped off of Brady’s post on the Ignite main site.

Scott Berkun is a great public speaker. He travels the country speaking on project management, innovation, design and lately on how to speak. As an offshoot in his research on his upcoming book he put together this Ignite talk on Why and How to Speak.

He’s summarized the talk in this excellent blog post on Speaker Confessions (where he’s chronicling his new book):

  • 300 seconds kicks ass. This is super short, which means it’s easy to practice . There is no excuse for not practicing until it feels good. It also means you have to be tight in your points. 300 seconds equals 10 television commercials. You can make great points in a short time if you refine your thoughts. The entire sermon on the mount can be read in about 5 minutes and The Gettysburg address takes about 2 and a half minutes.
  • Figure out your points before you make slides. Talking about something for five minutes is easy – really, give it a shot once or twice before you make a slide – it will help you sort out what you want to say. You only need Four or five solid points to go 5 minutes. And practice with a timer before you make a slide. You’ll quickly discover how unlikely it is to run out of things to say during an ignite talk.
  • It is ok to breathe. There is no law that says you must fill every second with talking. When you practice, practice breathing. Take a moment between points. Like whitespace in visual design it’s the pauses that make what you do say stand out clearly. Give yourself a slide or two that’s for just for catching up and taking a breath.
  • Pick strong stories and big themes. What do you love? What do you hate? What is the best advice anyone ever gave you? Pick stories with big themes, since they require less introduction. What are the 5 most important things to know about X that no one talks about? The stronger the topic & title the easier the work is. Top 10 lists can work, but making 10 points is extremely hard – aim for 5 or 6.

He’s got several more points at his site.

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