When you present at Ignite Boulder - time goes by really, really fast. Everyone you know seems to find their way to you both before and after the show to offer words of encouragement and congratulations. You can't stand still because there is a lot of nervous energy that needs to be walked off. And sadly, you can't always give the other speakers your full attention - you're either worrying about your speech, or coming down from just having given it.
I've thought a lot about "the ideal" presentation in the last few months and how the speeches I've seen (and given) could have been better. Most often, it boils down to one of the following issues:
- It's a comedy routine with little value beyond entertainment
- Too much information
- Too many words on a slide
- Presenter is basically "reading" the presentation, rather than speaking naturally
- 19 slides are spent setting up the problem, with only one slide is left for the solution
So, I tried something a little bit different this time. Instead of going for the information overload method (as I did in A Whirlwind Tour Through 8 Decades of Food Advice) or doing a geeky stand up comedy routine (as I did in My Mom's On Facebook, Now What? and Money Saving Advice from a Cheapskate), I wanted Our Princess is in Another Castle to be a story.
After the intro slide, the next 13 told the story of my life as it unfolded through video games. What few lessons there were to be learned, I tried to show rather than tell. The last 6 slides were straightforward "what did I learn?" The entire deck used only 16 words: 8 on the first slide, and 5 on the last. The rest were all full screen images (almost exclusively 1 per slide).
I did get lost on the only part that needed to be said word for word, my quote from Michael Jordan's Hall of Fame Induction speech. What I planned to say was: "Michael Jordan recently told us
Limits, like fears, are often just an illusion
a lesson I learned watching many of the people I worked with at Namco get the jobs that seemed unattainable to me at the time."
The only other place I would have liked to have done better was in my physical presentation style. I really enjoy being able to walk around onstage with the mic - it's the best way for me to feel comfortable and have natural body movements and hand gestures. It wasn't possible last night, and instead I felt a little trapped behind the podium.
For the first time though, I'm not daydreaming about topics for my next Ignite performance. I gave what I believe was a presentation that didn't fall victim to any of the pitfalls I've complained about in the past. In a certain way, I felt like I owed that to Ignite.
In the end, a great presentation can be summed up in two words: be entertaining.
Just don't overthink it.
Extra: The Daily Camera article (subtitled: Geekfest shows off PowerPoint potential to sold-out crowd) features my pic front and center!