Testing How-to Layout
If you've planned it well and you take things in stride, then the night will be easy. Have fun!
Do an open call, but also invite speakers:
You want to make sure that you have strong speakers to keep the crowd. Try alternating the known with the unknown. Also, consider varying the topics of your speakers; if too many apply with similar topics, you should put some off until the next event.
Count on turning people down:
Based on the venue size and how many people can sit, you should have somewhere between 8 and 16 talks. If you have theatre seating, go for 2 sets of 8. If you have limited seating with some people standing, you should make it shorter.
Voting for presentations:
Services such as uservoice.com can be useful, but they move the focus from the whole event to the individual presentations, which may not be desired (i.e. if you want to limit the number presentations on any topic.) One solution is to allow voters to select half of the presentations and to hand-pick the others.
What type of presentations work best?
Make presentations that can stand on their own; presentations should not be about some "inside joke" that only the tech community knows.
While topics can be very funny, Ignites are not a forum for stand-up comedy. People should be left with an interesting message from each presentation. A great example is Derek Neighbors's presentation from Ignite Phoenix 3: a highly entertaining talk where the laughs helped hammer home a point at a level that few understood it before his talk.
Often, Ignite is portrayed as something where all the presentations should always be geeky or fun. This presentation from Ignite Portland is neither: http://igniteshow.com/videos/being-refugee . Tara's presentation is passionate and moving. She stops talking for about half a minute in the middle of the presentation—something I'm not sure would even be possible for the majority of Ignite presenters. Her talk was so powerful that Brady selected it for the Ignite Show back in January. If you have a list of exemplary presentations, consider including this one. If you have a definition of what Ignite is, include presentations like this.
See Tips & Tricks for information on speaker cancellations, increasing participation by women, advice for speakers, and presenting without slides
Prepare to Run Powerpoint Presentations
Run all presentations from one machine to help keep the speed going. We recommend using Powerpoint for all presentations. Be sure to rename the files to reflect the order and speaker. Make sure your computer is working and have a backup on hand, loaded with the presentations.
Ignite intro slides
Portland handles their intros very elegantly. They have a guest speaker do a 20 slide intro. About 8 of the slides are admin (format, bathrooms, sponsors, etc.) and the rest of the deck is devoted to the speaker's thoughts on Ignite. It's a really nice way of keeping the opening fresh and reflecting on the tech community.
Where to get Slide and Signage Templates
There's an ignite-in-a-box zipfile containing both the slide templates and editable PDF files for signage. Per http://igniteshow.com/howto , send an e-mail to ignite [at] oreilly.com, subject "New Ignite Event Request" to get the current zipfile.
Video in Ignite presentations
There is no hard and fast rule about whether to permit or prohibit video or animations in a presentation.
It's certainly technically possible to allow them, but if you permit any sort of buildouts, animations, or videos on slides, you will increase the difficulty for the slide wrangler to massage the slides so they're reliably timed and delivered for the event. If you do end up using video, try using Keynote if you can—PowerPoint has had mixed results, where the video will appear on the laptop but not on the big screen. (As an aside, PowerPoint 2010 promises to fix this. It's in beta release if you want to try it.) To reduce the probability of complications with a presentation incorporating video, the slides can be converted into a Quicktime video with all non-video slides as static images for 450 frames (15sec) each.
Some Igniters cite philosophical reasons for not allowing video—the talks are supposed to be focused on the presenter's story, with the audience's attention primarily focused on the presenter, and the visual aids are supposed to be supportive of the presenter, not the other way around.
Set Up Venue
Do a walk-through. Hang signs. Do a soundcheck. Set up the projector (have a backup, if at all possible).
Set Up Contest
Set out the materials. When you have a good-sized group of people, ask those who want to play to get into teams, announce the rules, and start. The rules are what make the contest fun. They have to be constrained enough that people have to work to win, but still allow for creativity. For example, if you are doing the egg slam contest you might limit the size and weight of the egg container. For a popsicle bridge contest we limited the number of popsicles, but let people use as much glue as desired.
You'll be dealing with a lot of speakers. Ask all of the speakers for that particular block to be up front before the block starts. Lure them with drink tickets! Introduce speakers to each other–connecting with their fellow speakers is a confidence builder and facilitates a smooth hand-off of the mic.
Stay On Schedule
There's a lot of time for padding in the schedule, but try to start on time. You don't want your audience to get bored.
Managing the Talks (Options - MC or Speaker-to-Speaker hand-off)
The MC can kick things off with an intro, and then bring on the speakers one at a time. Use a wireless hand-held microphone if possible so that the MC can hand it off to each of the speakers. Optionally, you can have each speaker hand-off to the next. One person will need to staff the laptop. This person will start the next speaker's presentation as soon as the microphone is exchanged.
End of the Event
Say good-bye. Thank everyone involved. Clean up as directed by the venue--don't be afraid to ask the crowd for help.