I am a terrible public speaker. When I gave my Middle Years Program presentation in the 10th grade I was speaking so fast my mom said it sounded like I was crying. I am surprised I didn’t fail my senior thesis presentation in college because I only said 1/3 of my points because I becamet so nervous I forgot them all. I am, however, also a perfectionist, and gosh darn it I will be a better public speaker one way or the other!
I heard about Ignite Fort Collins when #11 was rolling around. Ignite is a quarterly public forum-style event where multiple speakers present “sparks” meant to ignite others. According to the Ignite Fort Collins website it is an event where, “we bring Fort Collins geeks, designers, and hipsters together for a night of beer drinking and fun”. That statement is a bit under rated, as so many more members of the community attend than just hipsters (yes, most geeks and designers fall into the “hipster” category already). In fact, I saw very few hipsters there. It was a great mixed bag of amazing people in Fort Collins. As for beer drinking… Shock Top was the sponsor for this event, and you were lucky enough to get a ticket for a free one for attending. Enough said.
I made a very sad attempt to sign up to speak for Ignite 11, and my fear over came. I mean, it IS public speaking. In front of nearly 300 people. When the entry deadline for #12 rolled around, I decided to bite the bullet. After you submit a talk idea, it enters a voting poll. The top 6 get automatic entry to speak, and the rest are chosen based on topic idea by the organizers. Despite submitting my idea late, and right before the deadline, I rocketed up to slot #2 with my topic “Women, the original brewers of beer”.
An ignite talk is not just an ordinary talk. You have exactly 5 minutes to talk. On top of that, you get a formatted template of 20 power point slides that automatically change every 15 seconds. Enter OCD crazy mode. Organizing and practicing a speech in 15 second intervals would drive anyone crazy let alone a perfectionist.
But I made it. I finished my slides and gave my talk. I got quite a few more laughs than I thought, which threw off my carefully planned out 15 second stretches. It was OK though, because I taught people something. Not just a few people, but over 200 people learned something because of me. That is what I am here for in the first place.
A few things I will remember for the future is to not breathe into the mic while laughing and being nervous. I sound like a creepy prank caller. I also kept looking back at the screen, probably because I couldn’t see in the audience with all the bright lights shining at me to see the monitor in the middle of the auditorium. Next time, I am going to ditch the paper. I know this stuff like the back of my hand and trying to follow my notes just made me more off track.
Make sure you check out the past amazing Ignite talks on Youtube.com/ignitefc. The next talk will be this coming November, as it is a quarterly event. Maybe I will get to see you speak!