Ignite Presentation- Six Tips to Give the One of Your Lifetime

By Gini Dietrich

When I was at Counselors Academy last month, the luncheon the first full day was called 52N.

Going into it, all I knew is my friends – Roger Friedensen, Martin Waxman, Darryl Salerno, Bret Werner, and Abbie Fink (representing the women!) – were all presenting.

With a plate full of fresh fruits, veggies, and salad, I sat down next to Abbie and asked her what to expect. She said, “Expect me to cry.”

(And cry she did…and so did everyone in the audience. But we’ll come back to that in a minute.)

Set up like an Ignite presentation, they each had five minutes to go through 20 PowerPoint slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds.

That means you have to speak in 15 second soundbites and not let the slides get ahead of you. If they do, you have to quickly get yourself caught up.

I did this kind of presentation a couple of years ago in Washington, D.C. It wasn’t easy and I rehearsed for it more than I’ve ever done so for a speech. You have to know exactly what you’re going to say and there is no room for going off message or reading the body language of the audience and changing your tune.

You are stuck with what you prepared for the full five minutes…no matter how your audience feels about it.

As I watched my friends tell their stories in this compelling and interesting way, I jotted down what I thought each of them did well so as to share it with you.

Six Tips for an Ignite Presentation

Following are six tips for giving the Ignite presentation of your life.

  1. Tell a personal story. It doesn’t have to be about work. As I watched both Daryl and Abbie do their presentations, I was reminded of the episode of Grey’s Anatomy when Callie is getting ready to do her TED talk and rehearses the boring, old mechanical nature of her job. But when she actually presented, she told the story of being married to a woman who lost her leg in a plane crash. The same crash that killed her best friend and baby’s daddy. The personal story is much more alluring and helps you connect with your audience.
  2. Have only one message…and repeat it. You have only five minutes and, because the slides are auto advancing every 15 seconds, your audience is both listening to you and watching whether or not you’ll screw up the timing. Instead of trying to get in three to five messages, like you would in a longer-form speech, have only one thing to drive home and repeat it multiple times.
  3. Be self-effacing. If you screw up – and it’s likely you will – make fun of yourself. The audience is holding its breath waiting for you to make it through those five minutes. They want you to succeed. If you screw up and make light of it, you can feel the collective sigh of relief as everyone realizes you, too, can screw up and it doesn’t hurt your presentation. The mood lightens and you continue on, with your audience cheering you every step of the way.
  4. Tell a story or read a poem. Daryl Salerno read a poem about the English language by Gerald Nolst Trenite. Called The Chaos, the poem has about 800 of the worst irregularities and strange pronunciations we find in our language. If you just scroll through the length of the poem, you know how difficult it must have been for Daryl to get through the entire thing on time.
  5. Have funny images to support your point. DO NOT DO DEATH BY POWERPOINT. The moment you put slides up that have bullet points, you’ve lost your audience. They’re busy reading what you have on the screen and not paying attention to what you’re saying. Part of the challenge is you must have slides, but use funny images to support what you’re saying. Do not use text.
  6. Have some key takeaways. Martin Waxman made it very easy for his audience to tweet some of the things he was saying because he either said, “Here’s a tweet for you” or he had the tweet on the screen. His key takeaways were presented as tweets because he knew his audience and what we would be doing while he spoke. Trouble is, his presentation was so good, you forgot you were supposed to be tweeting and gave him your full undivided attention instead.

The Best Ignite Presentation of the Day

But the creme de la creme of the luncheon?

It was when Abbie Fink read a letter to her dog, Viva.

If you want to see how an Ignite presentation is done really well – in a way that captures nearly every one of the above tips – I present you with Abbie’s video. Words can’t do it justice.

(If you can’t see the video in your email or Reader, click here and it’ll magically appear.)

I expect you to cry.

P.S. Join DJ Waldow on July 25 at 11 a.m. CT for the Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing. Register – for free – here!

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

View all posts by Gini Dietrich