Five electric (and terrifying) minutes


On June 21, I had the distinct pleasure to open up the evening for IgniteDenver29. This fun talk program is an evening of curious talks - everything from how to’s to shared experiences to funny stories. Each speaker submits a ‘spark’ or idea for a talk. The community votes on which talks they want to hear, and then the speakers are given the opportunity to get up and give their best. 

The talks are 5 minutes long. Each speaker gets 20 slides, which automatically advance every 15 seconds. It’s by far the most challenging format I’ve ever worked within for a public talk. I’ve been speaking in public since I was 9 (eek...that was 40 years ago), so I’m not too freaked out about it. But this talk had me pretty worked up. 

I spent two weeks refining the talk. Economy of words is paramount. You get about 13 seconds of words per slide, and it’s best if you don’t actually talk to the slides, but instead have them running as a video in the background. The slides are a sort of visual punctuation - they flow perfectly if you keep on time, but if you get off, they don’t always fit in.  

Then, I spent two days rehearsing. You wouldn’t think it matters so much for a five minute talk, but given the constraints, it was important to not only convey the words but also to get the timing just right.   

As if that weren’t enough pressure, I was up first on the speaker’s list!  

It’s not exactly the talk I prepared, but it’s pretty darn close. I am super pleased with how it turned out, and I’m already thinking about what topic I’d like to submit for the next one! Take a peek and see what you think.