Igniting dialogue at WREF2012

For the first time at  WREF2012, introduced, Ignite a type of presentation that limits the number of PowerPoint slides to twenty, and auto-advancing every 15 seconds, resulting in a 5-minute presentation. I noticed the sessions were hit-or-miss and I suspect that many of us were out of our comfort zone and reacted in asymmetric ways to the constraints of the format. I did an Ignite presentation at WREF 2012 and speak several times a year across the country so  I’d like to humbly give some advice for presenters.

First-time presenters:5-25ignite_wref

• The idea is that the format allows you to give a taste of your topic, then later you give details when asked. Some detail during the 5 minutes is good. Giving all the details of your paper is not OK.

• There are plenty of how-to guides out there on the internet. They are easy to find. Respect your audience.

• Practice. You can’t wing it and do well.

• The operative phrase for your presentation is: “make a long story short”.  That is: tell the story of your work. Not the gory details. Approach the task      as if you are at a party and mingling.

• Don’t read your slides. The slides support your story, your story does not support your slides.

• If you can’t tell the story of your work in 5 minutes, something is wrong. Think again. The Gettysburg address took less than 5 minutes. Companies try to convince you to consume their product in far less time than an Ignite presentation.

• Ignite is like a poster presentation. Treat it that way – you don’t give a 15-minute talk to someone looking at your poster.

Most of all have fun with this format as it goes quick!

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