Do you know about Ignite presentations?

Ignite!

Spear-headed by O’Reilly media, they are 5 minute presentations, with slides advancing every 15 seconds.

The idea is great. We’ve all been there; the presentations with a 400-word essay on one slide, that never end, with quizzical imagery and obscure messaging. If the messiahs are still claiming that powerpoint is dead, then Ignite re-invigorates into a valuable form. I would love it if Ignite presentations became the de-facto standard of presentations, no longer supplanting the workgroup process, but kicking it off to get everyone on the same page (and then onto the work, off the screen!).

You don’t sit through a half-hour presentation. Instead you’re engaged in a fast-paced presentation. What? It’s boring/torture/bla? Don’t worry, it’s only 5 minutes, it’ll be over soon.

Here’s an Ignite video of an Ignite presentation about how to do an Ignite presentation:

Ignite presentations are great for events. They can kick off your event, setting a fast-paced and upbeat tone, and cover a range of topics in little time. Do the math: in just a half hour you could feasibly have 6 presentations (30mins / 5 mins per presentation).

There are also Ignite presentation events too, where there’s a whole evening of Ignite presentations. And they’re happening all over the place. What’s great about them is you can get exposed to a lot of very different subjects in one evening.  Though you may think that 20 slides over 5 minutes can’t expose you to much, it’s the ideas and thoughts it stimulates. One event I attended in Ottawa had 8 great presentations on a wide-range of topics: Animation, Digital life, Inspiration through cancer, the brief history of Advertising, the Nazi war, Open Data, and Looney Toons.

Challenges with Ignite

There are a few challenges I find with the Ignite presentations. With only 5 minutes and every presentation being so fast-paced and different, it can be disorienting adjusting to the topic of the presentation, as well as the tone and slide content (although the MC’ing can help serve as a palette cleanser). When Ignite presentations are used to kick off a conference, the presentations tie to a common theme for which to draw on as a launching point for all presentations. At an Ignite event they can be all over the place. As the audience settle with the form, they are left with little on the topic.

Applying the Ignite model in the workplace

I’ve been thinking about how awesome it would be to have co-workers give Ignite Presentations at work. No more drab long boring powerpoint presentations replacing the workflow. Instead, at worst, they are 5 minute drab presentations that are over before you have time to suffer. Ignite presentations for project proposals. For committees to share knowledge. To kick off a retreat. To set the tone for a strategic planning session.

Sure they would take time to develop, but then they’re done, and can be repeated and further refined. Imagine if all the projects/groups in your workplace each had a 5-minute presentation that describes it. The time and effort isn’t wasted, it’s a great foundation for a traveling roadshow/dog & pony show. No more describing your project from a seat around the table (that can go on for 15 minutes or more). Deliver the message with pizazz.

It could be a challenge with an Ignite presentation at work

Summary

Format:

  • 5 minutes long
  • 20 slides
  • Yes, that equals 15 seconds a slide

Benefits

  • Succinct, attention-grabbing
  • Great way to kick off an event, working session, conference, briefing
  • Cover a lot of topics or viewpoints in little time

Weaknesses

  • A challenge for inexperienced presenters
  • Can’t supplant typical briefings, yet.
  • Those who don’t ‘get it’ may hate it.

More info

My next blog post will be proposing an approach to sustainably support Ignite events, broaden their appeal, and improve the experience for participants and attendees.  Think Toastmasters.

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