Categorized | Events, Presentations

Tips for a Great Presentation

Posted on 08 March 2010 by IgniteBC

The Rules of Ignite

The Ignite format is really simple. You must have 20 slides, and each slide must change automatically after 15 seconds. You can download the PowerPoint presentation template here – which automatically advances and has a slide timer built in.

To get an idea of what it’s all about, take 5 minutes and watch this:

An excellent talk, with a clear message told simply, with minimal text.

Putting your slides together

Before you fire up your laptop, consider the advice of Slide:ology and go analog. Use post-it notes to plan what you really want to say.

Treat the slides like a set of index cards that you use to prompt yourself for the next point. That way, if you get slightly out of sync with the slides it won’t matter so much. (If you try to rattle through a list of bullet points you will inevitably mess up the timing).

Use a single idea per slide, and illustrate it with a nice clear image. You can download free (or cheap) legal photos from the URLs listed on the Presentation Zen site.

At all costs, avoid text-heavy “death by powerpoint” slides as these definitely don’t work for Ignite. Keep the number of words on each slide to a minimum – 5 words is plenty, since it’s just a headline.

Avoid putting anything important at the very top or bottom of the slide, as this may be cut off or hard to see from some parts of the room.

You don’t need to talk about yourself on the first slide – the MC will introduce you, and explain where you’re from and what you’ll be talking about. So just launch straight into an exciting and compelling opening, and grab the audience’s attention from the first slide.

Can I use animations?

We don’t recommend the use of animations like moving text, images appearing after a delay, embedded videos, etc. They’re mostly distracting, often fail, and are unnecessary in the Ignite format: you’ve only got 15 seconds, so don’t waste it with animations.

Great use of cartoons to simplify things and keep them fun

Some suggestions

Do it without notes! If you structure your slides to be like index cards, the slide itself should act as your prompter and you won’t need to refer to notes. There will be a monitor facing the presenter so you won’t need to look back at the screen.

Make sure you practice your presentation a few times in front of a live audience (your partner, your colleagues, your cat, the mirror) to get your timing right. You’ll be amazed how fast the 5 minutes actually goes.

There is an excellent article here written by an Ignite presenter, giving advice on how to put your talk together, and here is some great advice from previous Ignite Sydney presenter Mark Pollard.

Most of all, remember that Ignite is meant to be a bit of fun – it’s an antidote to all the boring conferences and lectures that people are used to. So make your presentation entertaining, grab a drink, and enjoy yourself.

An Ignite talk about giving Ignite talks? How post-modern

What format?

If you’re using PowerPoint (Windows), save your slides in either PPT or PPTX. If you’re using Keynote (Mac), save your slides in Keynote 09 format. Please note that we don’t use Presenter’s View so be prepared for this.

Don’t worry about the 15 second timing on the slides if you don’t know how to do it – we can set that up for you.

The projector will be set to a low resolution of 1024 x 768 so don’t include any fine details – you should be able to read your slides clearly while standing a few feet away from your laptop. If you can’t see it, neither can the audience.

Simple slides, with a single bullet point per slide

Other details: Attire, Behavior, Manners, etc

1. Don’t move around too much. It’s distracting. That includes hand gestures, bobbing and weaving back and forth, and turning your back to the camera / audience.
2. Generally, try to wear clothing that is comfortable and that does not clash with the backdrop of the presentation /stage. This is so you will show up well on camera. Remember, it will probably be dark in the venue. So use clothing that will reflect the light.
3. Know when you are going up, and freshen up quickly before you go on stage. Comb your hair, tuck in your shirt, touch up any makeup, etc.
4. DON’T drink excessively before you go on stage.
5. Speak up and speak clearly and *speak just a little slower* than you are normally accustomed to.
6. Prepare your presentation in advance and supply them to the event organizer at least two weeks prior to the event to help build buzz and excitement!


If you need any help, or you’re stuck for ideas, drop us an email at and we’ll do our best to help.

Thanks again, and see you on the night.

Article re-posted with permission from Ignite Sydney

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