Why are Ignite Talks Only Five Minutes Long?

We often get asked why do speakers only get 5 minutes? The answer is obvious to us: most presentations, most of the time, aren’t very good. One reason why is that with 20, 30 or 60 minutes, there’s no natural way for speakers to make sure they get to the heart of their story or lesson and stay there. We take seriously the idea that if you can’t use 5 minutes on stage well, why would we give you more? We’re convinced a shorter format helps speakers do a good job, even inexperienced ones. It forces them to prepare, practice and refine. It also creates energy, drama and allows more people to share the stage at our events.

Although Ignite began in Seattle in 2006, there is a long history of short-form speaking events. In 1917, The Four Minute Men worked for the U.S. government to convey information to citizens. More recently, in 2000, software developer Mark Jason Dominus realized most speakers were far from concise. They go on too long and rarely make their points clearly no matter how much time they have. His solution? Instead of giving them 60, 30 or even 20 minutes, just give them five. The time limit was the only rule, and he called this format the lightning talk. Today events do 99 second or 60 second talks, and in some cases allow anyone brave enough to walk up to the microphone to take a turn.

In a similar spirit of brevity, Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham from the architecture firm Klein-Dytham wanted to inspire creative people to express themselves more clearly. In 2003 they started a new format for presentations called Pecha Kucha (pronounced pe-chak-cha), with the goal of making presentations fun and interesting, and increasing the number of speakers that can present in a few hours. Their format is 20 slides and 20 seconds for each slide (20×20), for a total of 6 minutes and 40 seconds.

In 2006 Brady Forest and Bre Petis, who worked for O’Reilly Media at the time, created the first Ignite event, an evening of short talks and socializing here in Seattle. It was an experiment to see if the Seattle community wanted a more dynamic and social speaking event. They simplified the format to 20 slides, with 15 seconds per slide, to make a nice round number of five minutes. It went well. They promoted the idea of the event and there are now dozens of them around the world.

Here at Ignite Seattle, two of our major goals are sharing diverse stories and teaching the craft of storytelling. To achieve this we provide free coaching to all of our speakers to help them master the five-minute Ignite format as well as gain confidence in all of the core skills of public speaking.

[This is a revised version of The End Of Boring Presentations, Forbes.com]

Ignite Seattle #40 Recap + Videos

Thanks to all of you who joined us for another stupendously fun, inspiring and challenging evening of short presentations, lively conversations and interactive experiences. Here is our recap of everything from that wonderful night.

Thanks to our sponsors Punch Drunk, Mindhatch, 4Culture and Reel Grrrls for our on-air livestream entertainment.

Our next event, Ignite #41, is on Thursday, February 27th 2020 and submissions are open.

And tickets are on sale at early bird price ($10). We’ve sold out 9 of our last 10 shows – get your seats now. Invite your friends or people you’d like to make into your friends.


Ignite Seattle #40 – Talk Lineup & Videos

Get tickets NOW for Ignite #41, February 27th, 2020.

Photos from Ignite Seattle #40

Full gallery can be found here. Thanks to Brady Harvey and Randy Stewart, our official photographers.

Rovina Broomfield - Ignite Seattle 40
Ignite Seattle 40 Speakers
Ignite40_HiRes-3760.jpg
Ignite Seattle 40
Karlos Dillard - Ignite Seattle 40
Melissa Reaves - Ignite Seattle 40
Josh Jelin - Ignite Seattle 40
Angela Barrus - Ignite Seattle 40
Ignite Seattle 40

Our next event, Ignite #41, is on Thursday, February 27th 2020 and submissions are open.

Seven great reasons to come to Ignite Seattle #40 (Thurs Oct. 3rd)

We’re thrilled to bring you another edition of the best open submission public speaking event in the Northwest. We’re on a long stretch of sold out shows, so don’t wait to long to get your tickets.

Our shows are a great, fun, social experience, perfect for a date night, catching up with old friends or even just to hang out with coworkers after work. 

If you’ve never come before, or have missed a few, this is a great one. Here are seven reasons to come to Ignite 40:

  1. Know Anyone with OCD? Melissa Reaves will talk about the profound effects on her family of having a child with the condition and how they’ve learned to cope and grow. 
  2. Wonder what the impact of what you eat really is? Mary Purdy will explain how you can save the world, just by what you put under  your fork.
  3. Did you know there are almost 450,000 foster children in the U.S.? Karlos Dillard, a foster adult, will teach us how they see life differently, something we should know as some people in our lives were likely once in the foster system. 
  4.  Rovina Broomfield, Ignite Seattle alum (So you’re Black in Tech), will be our fantastic Guest MC for the entire evening. 
  5. Have you been arrested for a serious crime you didn’t even know you were commtting? Angela Barris’ surprising story involves a children’s toy, drawn guns, a concussion and bloody hands! Come to hear they whole wild tale.  
  6. Easily beat the traffic and grab a pre-show snack or drink in the neighborhood near Town Hall Seattle with our recommendations.
  7. Plus eight more talks on a wide array of challenging, fun and entertaining subjects.

You will hate yourself if you don’t come. I mean, it’s Thursday night – shouldn’t you start your weekend a day early? We think you deserve it.

Doors open at 6:30pm (as does the cash bar). Talks start at 7:30pm, with an  intermission. Full list of speakers and topics.

Announcing Guest MC: Rovina Broomfield – for Ignite Seattle #40

At our #39th event, it worked out so well to have Nicole Steinbok as a guest MC, we’re doing it again for #40.

This time it’s Ignite Seattle alum Rovina Broomfield. She’ll be the master of ceremonies (thats what MC, or emcee, means after all) introducing the audience to the Ignite format and inviting our great lineup of speakers to the stage.

Tickets are on sale now (early bird price of $10) and as usual, we expect to sell out, so don’t wait.

She spoke at #37 at the Egyptian about “So You’re Black In Tech”.

Announcing speakers and stories for Ignite Seattle #40 – Oct. 3rd at Town Hall Seattle

We are excited to announce our speaker lineup for Ignite Seattle #40. We had over 60 submissions from which we picked our lineup of fantastic talks (thanks to all who took time to share their story with us).

Get your tickets now – just $10 at the early bird price, which ends soon. ($5 more after that).

  • The speakers and topics are fantastic. See the list below. 
  • We will sell out.
  • You save $5 now. Buy tickets before 9/19 and you get Early Bird pricing.

Here are our evening’s stories and storytellers (order is to be determined):

  • Saving the Planet with your Fork, Mary Purdy
  • Friend Of A Foster Child, Karlos Dillard
  • Urban Wildlife Gardening, Understanding Israel
  • How To See Your Own Perception Bias, Aeva Black
  • Turning orphanages into Creative Hubs, Simon Okelo
  • Does This P-value Make my Lies Look Good?, Josh Jelin
  • Why We Should Teach Kids to Write Fiction, Rebecca A. Demarest
  • Dying Black, Ashley McGirt
  • Confessions of an International Smuggler, Angela Barrus
  • How Religion Shaped me as a Scientist, FoSheng Hsu
  • OCD is a Family Affair, Melissa Reaves
  • I Like Your Shoes, Wanna Be Friends?, Nadine Khoury

What to expect at the show on Thursday, Oct 3rd:

  • Doors open at 6:30pm – get a drink, a snack, and play a game
  • Show starts at 7:30pm – with an intermission in the middle
  • After party at 9:30pm – celebrate the show with the speakers and organizers

$10 until Sept 19 – $15 after

5 Reasons To Submit a Talk Idea To Ignite Seattle

UPDATE: Submissions are now closed. Thank you to all who submitted.

Submissions are currently open for our next main stage event, Ignite Seattle #40, on Thursday, Oct. 3rd at Town Hall Seattle (Tix $10). If you’ve thought about proposing a talk in the past, now is a great time. Here are 5 reasons why you should do it:

  1. It’s Seattle’s best live audience. We fill the great hall at Town Hall Seattle with almost 1000 of the most curious and supportive people you will ever speak in front of. They’ll cheer you on, laugh at your jokes and appreciate the effort you put in.
  2. You get to think about what you really care about. Submitting a talk is a forcing function: it gets you to think about your life experiences and knowledge and what you most wish to share, or want people to understand. Even if you don’t get in, you’ll better understand yourself (or realize you might need some more adventure in your life to make for new stories!)
  3. Receive free expert speaker coaching. We do everything we can to help our speakers, including two practice sessions with expert speaker coach Scott Berkun.
  4. You’ll become part of the Ignite Seattle family. For more than ten years we’ve put some of the most interesting people in our city on our stage, and you’ll be invited to our alum events to meet and get to know many of them.
  5. We give you great advice on what we’re looking for. Read our handy little guide that explains the common mistakes people make, how submissions get chosen, and what kinds of topics and ideas are most likely to get accepted.

Submissions close on August 22. Don’t wait! Go here to see the form and get started.

5 great reasons to come to Open Mic @ Ignite Seattle

Over the years, Ignite Seattle has grown to be a wildly popular, well curated and high-quality storytelling event. But way back at the beginning there was a chaotic fun in our first events in 2006, surprises and unexpected moments, that don’t happen often anymore. But now that’s back, with our first ever Open Mic evening.

When: Monday, July 8th, 7pm
Where: Market Theater (Pike Place Market)
Tickets: $5 on sale now

Here are 5 great reasons you and your friends should come.

  1. We don’t know what’s going to happen! We’ve never seen these talks before. Some will be amazing! Some will be… less than amazing! Ignite talks are high risk, with automated slides, so you may see some amazing things and some spectacular failures. Or some talks that are some of both. We’re excited to see what happens and you should be too.
  2. We’re in a smaller and cozier venue. We’ll be at the Market Theater, home of the improv group, and our friends, Unexpected Productions, and it has a lovely college vibe and a cozy bar just a few steps away from where you’ll sit. We love Town Hall Seattle, but Market theater is great for the vibe this event is going to have. The Ignite Seattle team will be there, so you can easily chat with us, give feedback and suggest other things we should be doing.
  3. Talks are only 3 minutes long. To quicken the pace and give room for more folks to take the stage, talks are only 3 minutes, 2 minutes shorter than the standard Ignite format. Don’t forget that you can say a lot in 3 minutes – the Gettysburg address can be read in under 2 minutes.
  4. Tickets are only $5. That’s less than half the price of a movie ticket, and you’ll get live action, high drama, high stakes edutainment and storytelling, performed live on stage (and no sequels or prequels or Nyquils). It’s a bargain in every way.
  5. There’s a great talk lineup. Maybe curation is overrated? The list of talks are challenging, interesting, funny and inspired. All things we know Ignite Seattle fans love to hear.

Talk / Speaker List (order TBD)

  • My Personal Experience with ID Theft – Christopher Wilson
  • An Unexpected Call for Courage – Kiesha Garrison
  • What My Kids Teach Me About Networking – Lynette Garcia
  • Data Bases and 3D Paintings – Bronson Shonk
  • Good News & Bad News A New Way To Deal With Things You Don’t Want to Hear – Matt Jensen
  • My Crimes and My Punishments – Daniel Baird
  • Out of the Box Belonging – Rebecca Kathleen Andersen
  • How to Be Old, Pissed off, and Wildly Hilarious* in Five Easy Steps –  Ro
  • Toss the Design Porn and Find Your Happy Place – Rebecca West
  • Blockchain for Direct Democracy – Ana Jamborcic
  • The Lonely ‘Lancer – Melissa Strawn
  • Escaping Ordinary Consciousness Through Sex– Jen Martin
  • Happy Birthday Women’s Suffrage! – Tonya Peck
  • C Level Under 30 – Altagracia Daly
  • 3 Lessons From the Commune – Uri israel
  • Why are Disability Products so #$@&%*! ugly? – Sarah Dillingham
  • One – Lennee Reid
  • Planning a Themed Wedding (if your theme is disaster) – Laura Williams Argilla
  • Quitter to Queen: How Getting Fired at Forty Changed My Life for the Better – Riah Gonzalez
  • The Life Changing Magic of Firing Marice – Marice Sy

You really don’t want to miss this. It’s going to be a special and memorable night in the 13 year history of Ignite Seattle. It may never happen again!

Get your tickets ($5) now.