Everything You Need to Assign and Teach Ignite Presentations

A good way to snore-fest your students at the end of the school year is to have everyone in class give a 20 minute speech. Thankfully, Ignite Presentations are a fantastic alternative. Because of its unique format, you can burn through 18 speeches in a 90 minute periods. And since students don't read from notecards, there is some pulse-pounding expository risk that keeps the energy up. I've used this format for about eight years now and am delighted to share my resources with you. 

So, as an end of the year present, here is everything you need to introduce and score Ignite Presentations!​

Ignite Presentations

What is an Ignite Presentation?

Not quite like a Pecha Kucha talk, Ignite presenters use 20 slides that automatically advance every 15 seconds. In five minutes, you've synthesized information on a topic and left a lasting impression.

Scott Berkun talks about Why and How to Give an Ignite Talk in the video below. 

What is behind the Ignite movement?

The presentation format started in Seattle and is now used around the world. Watch below. 

Watch 3 entertaining Ignite presentations (sorry these are all white men; there were a couple great female presenters, but their talks included swearing):

#1 Jay Thomson's "Better Living Through Fast Food"

#2 Jason Grigsby on Cup Noodle: Innovation, Inspiration and Manga

#3 Kendall Ruth's "Creatively Change the World While not Trying"

#3 Kendall Ruth's "Creatively Change the World While not Trying"

How hard is it to make your PowerPoint slides autoforward?

This slick Ignite Presentation template (unknown author) includes 20 slides and auto-forwards every 15 seconds. Simply download the PowerPoint and customize the aesthetics and content to fit your subject.

Advice for Presenters:

Your ignite presentation is unlike any other presentation that you've ever given. Your adrenaline will be flowing because you don't have notes. It's okay to make a mistake; the whole point of this assignment is to learn to recover after you stumble. Don't think of this presentation as scripted perfection. It is a conversation where you connect with your audience. You can do this!

You will be graded on your PowerPoint design. Chiara Ojeda's Tweak Your Slides has some  information on how to create awesome slides​ and what to avoid. Read it before you design your slide deck and review Ojeda's tips when you think the PowerPoint design is finished as a final check. 

Have your PowerPoint loaded onto the computer before class starts. Naming your PowerPoint file something short like "John Doe’s Ignite" will help you quickly locate your presentation.

You and your tech buddy will act like a NASCAR pit crew, getting you ready to present in seconds. Your presentation tech buddy will troubleshoot, help you get set up, and say calm and encouraging things right before it's go time.  As soon as you finish presenting, you and your tech buddy should bee-line back to your seats.​

Technology is embryonic; things will go wrong. If the automatic forward doesn't work, your tech buddy should be ready to forward the slides for you. If your set-up takes longer than 2 minutes, plan on speaking without the slide show. If things go wrong, be prepared to perform anyway, just like Bill Clinton  ad libbed his address to the Detroit Economic Club when his teleprompter died.

Practice aloud and a lot.

Practice a couple times with your eyes closed and the radio on. 

Remember that the purpose of the Ignite format is not to be a perfect, smooth-talking speaker. The purpose is to connect with your audience and communicate what you've learned about a subject. Think of this as play. 

Finally, here is a presentation rubric that I use to score presentations:

Todd Finley

Edutopia Blogger and Asst. Editor || ECU Ed Professor || Founder of Todd's Brain at www.todd-finley.com || Books: Dinkytown Braves and Rethinking Classroom Design.

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