How to prepare an Ignite presentation?

Last Wednesday, on the 27th of February I gave the following presentation at Ignite Valencia #3:

It was a wonderful experience. I enjoyed a lot the time preparing my talk as well as the time on stage. I recommend all of you to prepare and give an Ignite talk. In this post I will tell you a bit about Ignite and I will give you some tips to prepare your own Ignite talk.

Rules of Ignite:
– 20 slides, every slide 15 seconds
– share your passion
– don´t talk about your book, your project or your company

The Ignite format sets some restrictions. You have only 5 minutes and the images advance automatically. It is a really good exercise to be brief and to the point, to train your creativity and to select images that empower your message.

Prepare your Ignite Talk

How could you prepare for an Ignite presentation? I´d like to give you some experience based advise.

First select the topic and create an objective and a headline.:

Objective: do you want to inform, motivate or entertain? These are the three main objectives to choose from. Formulate your objective as in “I want to inform people about the science behind a smile and motivate them to smile more.”
Main message: try to say in one sentence what your presentation is about. This helps you to focus on your main message.

Structure the content

First explore your topic and gather all the interesting information you would like to share with the audience. Then try to structure all the content of your presentation. Don´t go directly to PowerPoint, no!! Draft the structure off-line. You will have to delete, cross out and select the information properly. Think of every piece of information if sharing this on stage helps you to reach your objective and if it´s in line with the headline.

When you have more or less the structure of the presentation, prepare 20 slides in PowerPoint. Change the settings so that the slides advance automatically to the next one after 15 seconds and paste your text in the comments of the slides. In the slides themselves you can quickly write a word or draw a picture of the kind of image you want to show at that point of your talk.


When you have your text and the ideas of the pictures you need, you can start to look for the right images. Check that your images are free of copyright or make sure you are allowed to use them. A good website to start is the one of Creative Commons. I found a lot of images on MorgueFile. Give all the slides a unified look: the same style, the same frame or all the comments in the same colour and fond.


When you have everything ready the most important part arrives: rehearse!!! Practise your presentation as often as you can, especially the opening and the conclusion. You will see you want to change some sentences, maybe even change a slide or modify the order of the slides. That´s OK, but stop making changes two days before the presentation. Practise in front of some people who are willing to give you honest feedback. Another great tool is to record yourself on video and to watch yourself back.

The event

Then show time arrives! Make sure you make contact with the audience, focus on the delivery and … SMILE!

3 techniques of Steve Jobs which you can apply to your presentations

If you watch the video of the Commencement speech of Steve Jobs at Stanford University 2005 (see my former blog post), you can see some effective techniques which you can apply to your presentations as well.

Guiding the audience
Steve Jobs uses a clear structure for his speech: introduction – three stories – conclusion. He uses verbal guideposts to help the listeners follow the story. Use and share the ‘road map’ of your presentation.

The rule of three
His whole speech is based on the classical structure of three, he ‘just’ tells three stories of his life. In those stories, there are always three reasons, three examples or three main ideas.

Three is the magic number. Think about it. How many musketeers were there? How many nephews does Donald Duck have? Or think of the Declaration of Independence state, that all Americans have the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The rule of three is used by writers, comedians and good presenters. Now you know, you’ll see it everywhere. It works.

Silence and pausing
Watch again and see where he pauses. Silence is very powerful in presentations and speeches. Don’t be afraid to use it. Analyze and imitate others. Steve Jobs is a good example.

A good and interesting rhetorical analysis of this speech, can be found on the website of SixMinutes.