You Can Present at Ignite Corvallis

Posted on February 27, 2009 by Paul Bausch

Hi All. Last September, Jason emailed to let me know he was putting together the first Ignite Corvallis and he asked me to present. I had three immediate reactions:

1.) Wow, cool, can't wait to go to that.
2.) But speak? What do I have to talk about?
3.) I hate public speaking, no way.

So naturally I responded honestly right away with, "I'll think about it." I went to the first Ignite Portland in 2007 and enjoyed the energy so I had some idea of what I'd be getting into. I left that event wondering how I would take on the challenge, but didn't think I'd make the trip to Portland with my own talk. So even though I balked at Ignite Corvallis at first, I started thinking about what I could present. I thought about the idea from time to time like I might with a blog post, and toyed with different topics that might be good for a presentation.

A couple months went by and Jason sent a quick email, "How about that talk?" I finally decided to bite the bullet and turn one of my ideas into a presentation. I picked a topic and sent a title. The rest just fell into place. I wrote an outline, put together some slides, and practiced hitting my points in five minutes for a day or so. The event was fun, the packed house was very kind, my talk went ok (note to self: more practicing next time!), and I got to meet some folks in the process.

Having been through one Ignite Corvallis, I can offer some reasons why you might want to give it shot:

1.) Ignite hones ideas. Taking an idea from something you're kicking around to something you have to present to an audience forces you to refine your ideas. It's a way to make yourself spend some time solidifying and creating something valuable out of them.

2.) Ignite connects. In the process of presenting you'll meet some other folks in Corvallis working on interesting ideas. There isn't much time for talking at Ignite itself, but presenting there is a way to introduce yourself to everyone and open the door to future connections.

3.) Ignite informs. You have good information! Everyone has a unique perspective or experience to share. By sharing your ideas in public, you can guide others who are working on similar projects or give people in a completely different field some insight into what you do.

4.) Ignite is not work. Sales pitches are frowned upon at Ignite events, so chances are good you'll be stretching non-work muscles in creating your presentation. When was the last time you fired up PowerPoint to help you talk about something you love? (Sure, I love my work too--but you know what I mean.) It's a chance to share something about yourself in a less professional context. (One of my favorite talks from Ignite Portland 2007 was about raising chickens in the city.)

5.) Ignite is excellent practice. I'm a computer geek who spends most of his time behind a screen. I usually dread public speaking and I've been in the 45 minute talk spotlight a few times. Unlike long conference talks, Ignite talks are practically over before they begin, and you'll have some valuable speaking experience under your belt. It's a low-impact way to exercise your public speaking/presenting skills.

I will admit it's fun to kick back in the audience and watch the presenters sweat, but if you get up there and sweat a little yourself you won't regret it. But am I going to present at the next Ignite Corvallis? Hmm, I'll think about it.

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