I thought my talk at Ignite 3 went really well. It was really nice of Sasha to say that my talk had the most interesting content. I’ve seen several posts that echoed my thoughts that Jordan Schwartz’s talk on bees was very entertaining and there were several other really cool talks. I was a bit disappointed by a few talks that were too straight forward pitches for peoples companies/products. Sure I suppose I could have gotten up and talked about the latest in software development and Launch21 but it didn’t seem like the right thing for the audience.
Bruce’s talk on prison was also interesting, although it suffered just a tiny bit from expectation-setting. The title/topic was so attention getting that his talk (on teaching CS classes in a couple of prisons in Massachusetts) was, while very interesting, a slight let-down.
The logistics were overall way better. It was crowded but there was a good set of chairs and it was well organized. There was some last minute complication getting the video projector working right but Jesse and the other folks running the show did a great job pulling it all together.
I also like the format of the talks. It is pretty frustrating trying to design a talk that works in 5 minutes, but the results can be pretty cool. A couple of tips-
- Focus. 5 minutes is enough time to almost get across 1 point, maybe 2 if you stretch it. This focus can be a good thing if you embrace it. I wanted to talk about engine timing, magnetos, more about prop speed controls, and a bunch of other things, but frankly if I had it probably would have quickly bored people who don’t actually deal with the details of flying airplanes.
- No text. Or almost no text on your slides. At 15 seconds per slide no one has time to read them anyway, and they limit your flexibility as a presenter. Show some engaging pictures / graphs / graphics for each slide and focus on using your talking to make your verbal points.
- Practice. You don’t need to over practice, but it probably needs more practice than the typical 30 minute talk does. Most of us can give a 30 minute presentation on a topic we know well pretty cold. To get it into 5 minutes and get the transitions from slide to slide right you probably need to go through it 5-20 times.
- Think about the audience. This applies to any talk, but for this venue, consider that no topic will be directly meaningful to everyone (unlike a talk at the Exchange conference where I bet the entire audience cares about Exchange). So keep it entertaining and try to relate it something that a broad group of geeks will be interested in. Your topic might not be directly relevant to them, but they typically care about knowing interesting stuff about how just about anything works.