As lots of you will know I love contributing to Ignite Cardiff, a local sell-out speaking event where people share their personal passions and inspirations. I help run the Social Media promotion and live updates on the night and just adore being a part of it. You can also take a look at my blog on us attending the Cardiff Life Awards here. But in November 2014 I decided that instead of staying behind my laptop, I would try and lead by example to encourage more speakers up on stage! So two weeks ago I hit Glee club to deliver my second Ignite talk, this time on ‘Online Dating For Beginners’.
Take a Look
Being a speaker at Ignite is an amazing experience. To give you an idea of what goes on behind the scenes here’s a quick run down on your process as a speaker!
1. Signing Up
To sign up to speak all you need to do is head to http://ignite.wales our new website built by Mark and the team at Karolo. Take a look around the site and on the home page you’ll find a lovely enticing red button that says ‘Become a Speaker’. Remember, you don’t need to have a topic in mind yet or definitely want to do the next event, but it’s important to pop your name down so you get first bite at the apple for the next event!
2. Getting in touch
Once we’ve got your details you’ll get an email from Mr Ed Barnett himself, our lovely operations guy who sorts out the running order and supports our potential speakers. You’ll get a slide deck to start preparing slides and a run down of when you’ll need to have your speaker information ready to go. It’s really important to check your junk mail regularly too, you don’t want to miss any of his emails!
3. Prepping your talk
Now you’ve got your slide deck it’s time to get to grips with what the hell you actually want to speak about! I’ve always found that I have too many ideas to deal with at once, so try and hone in on one that you know a lot about, or that the audience can really connect with. Remember – the talk is only 5 minutes long and each slide automatically moved on every 15 seconds, so it’s really important to focus on one key idea or theme. What’s different about Ignite is that it is not corporate networking. It is specifically about personal passions so we ask that you don’t talk about your work, your company or your professional life. The best talks tend to hit home with the audience and be really accessible. Remember to take a look at videos on the Ignite site. Our crew Ebbw Media work really hard putting them together and it’s a great resource if you’re looking for inspiration, or if you’ve never been to an event before!
Once you’ve decided on your topic it’s time to practice practice practice! For my first talk in 2013 I pretty much left it to the last minute, oops! And whilst sometimes that totally suits people, it’s really helpful to practice just for your own confidence levels. I felt so much more confident for my second speech because I took a lot more practice time! I also knew that I wouldn’t be able to say half of the stuff I’d initially written down in that time frame. I’d suggest that however much you write, cut it in half, and maybe half again. If you’re planning funny sections or funny slides, make sure you have some breathing time for laughs! If you can, try not to bring cue cards or paper notes, it lowers your posture and doesn’t allow you to connect with the audience so easily.
5. The Day
On the day make sure you have plenty of time to get to the Glee Club for 6pm – you don’t want to fluster yourself in a mad rush! Make sure you have connected with us on Facebook and Twitter too – we’ll be bigging you up no end! Share your journey with us on #SpeakingAtIgnite and #IgniteCardiff – the audience are so lovely and supportive on Social Media too! Drink plenty of water and try and make sure you eat too!
6. The Night
Once you arrive at Glee, come and find one of the crew, we’re usually hanging around prepping the computers and cameras. We’ll take you for a quick little brief in the green room and explain the running order. You can also run through your notes or simply grab a quick cuppa! And finally, it’s time to take to the stage!
7. The Stage
Our lovely compere Steve will introduce you to the audience with the information you’ve sent us over and now it’s your 5 minutes of Ignite fame! Tell Ed to go whenever you’re ready and he’ll start your slide deck! Remember to speak slowly, clearly and look on out to the audience – try not to look at your feet (like I am above!). If you’re using a microphone stand, don’t rush to put it up and fix it to your height. Get it right at the start so that you don’t have to fuss with moving it later on during your talk!
Lastly try to enjoy yourself! Remember our audience is a lovely one – we’re all supportive and on your side!
8. The Aftermath
I really can’t put into words the buzz you get after an Ignite talk. After my first one, Ed asked me how I felt and I just said I wanted to do it again! Try not to beat yourself up about one word wrong, or a brief stumble – after my first talk I was a bit annoyed at myself for getting lost on the slides or not nailing it like I knew I could. On the other hand I was really pleased with my second talk, because I felt like I really knew what I was doing. Even when my numbered slides showed a little warped by powerpoint I could just move through it. You’ll always be surprised at just how many people come up and congratulate you afterwards and connect with you. Remember to check your Twitter as well as lots of us love to show you we enjoyed your talk online! If your talk is particularly different or interesting sometimes James from Compass might even bag you some press around it!
Finally James from Ebbw Media release your Ignite video a few days after the event and they are fantastic! As a memento, video to show your friends and family, or something to pop on your blog, it’s a great way to remember the night. I’ll be honest though, I still get nervous watching myself back!
Get in touch through the www.ignite.wales site if you fancy taking on the challenge, or feel free to comment below if you have any questions at all!