Ignite Your Audience in Just 5 Minutes!

I recently had the pleasure of attending an evening of “Ignite” presentations last month. For those who have not yet heard of this speaking phenomenon, Ignite is a series of speedy presentations, where each speaker shares their personal and professional passions, using 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds for a total of just five minutes.

A 5-minute presentation is not very different from a 10-minute, 30-minute, or 4-hour presentation. The basic rules of public speaking is no less important in this context. As always, it’s crucially important to focus on the 3 main components of any speech: Content, delivery, and audience engagement.

With up to 20 speakers sharing the stage on the same night, Ignite presentations challenge the speaker to get their point across concisely, persuasively – and most importantly, memorably. Add to that the expectation of clear and entertaining slides, a lot is riding on these 5 minutes.

Let’s look at one particularly stand-out Ignite presentation – the 22-minute meeting, by Nicole Steinbok – and see what makes it so successful:

  1. Relatable Topic – This is an issue that the majority of the audience can easily relate to. It seems that most of us have suffered through neverending, pointless meetings, and she capitalizes on this.
  2. Speech structure – She’s got a very clear introduction, middle and conclusion. Special kudos goes to the fact that she referred back to a particular point from her introduction in the conclusion, bringing the speech full circle.
  3. Images – The images in this presentation are very straightforward and easy to digest in the 15 seconds that we’ve got to look at them. And even in the case where a slide is particularly busy (for example, “the 9 easy steps to washing your hands”), it’s obvious that the audience is not supposed to read the slide. It is used to highlight the complexity surrounding something that is fairly common. Furthermore, every slide had a point.
  4. Faces the audience – While she may look at her slides for a second or two, she never turns away from the audience. And her other hand remains free to gesture; never hidden in her pocket.
  5. Enthusiasm – Her energetic delivery is electrifies the audience, and contributes to a genuine sense of fun seems to really entertain the audience.

As I watched these speakers, all of whom were of very different skill levels, I thought to myself, “This is, without a doubt, an exercise that every speaker should go through – no matter how long their presentation.” Given that this speaking phenomenon is spreading like wildfire, I hope we can look at this as a welcome speaking trend in the future.

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