My 1st Ignite talk

2 minute read

This year I did a bit of public speaking. Most of the talks were in a format of 30 minutes or more. Over time you get used how to talk, behave and etc. The reason is simple - you control stage, slides and have plenty time. Then one of DevOpsDays Oslo 2017 organizers proposed me to speak about security in Ignite talk format, I took that challenge. C’mon it will be fun and just 5 minutes. How hard can it be? However, Devil is in the details. Basically, Ignite is a series of speedy presentations, where the speaker has 20 slides for 5 minutes and they automatically switches every 15 seconds. More about Ignite, including best talks, can be found here.

Recently I read one of the best books about public speaking TED Talks to improve myself as a speaker. There was mentioned that the shorter talk is the more time and effort it takes to prepare. Every word is true. I felt it on my skin. The first challenge was - what can I say about security in five minutes? And how to deliver the message to developers, so it will stick in their minds? And what message I want to deliver. Those are classical questions for each talk, but in this case, it was harder because I had only 5 minutes. Immediately I noticed that no tech deep dive will work. And my recipe ended being following:

  • 4-5 main points
  • bit of self-humor
  • storytelling

When slides were ready I took paper and wrote all what I wanted to say. I read that human can say around 35 words during 15 seconds. And it turned to be not a truth. At least in my case. Of course, if I didn’t want to sound speedy. This was the second challenge. How to separate the wheat from the chaff. Main points. The exact and short message, which also is connected to the story. One sentence. You start to cut all details and leave the only main idea. It took some time. And then came the third challenge. Like I wrote slides are switching automatically and you need deal with it. You don’t have an opportunity to stop the slide and say all. You just need to be good in timing. Solution? As always. Practice, practice, and practice. After first 3 times, I was desperate. I couldn’t manage to get in time. But you also need to concentrate on voice and movements. But again with practice, you can fix all. 10 times helped. And I thought I’m ready. So basically this is a talk itself:

Slides can be found here

Am I happy with that? Almost, because I forgot about stress level, which comes every time no matter how often you are on stage. And I still need to learn how to become calmer. Probably meditation could help. And some points for myself:

  • voice - mainly because of stress
  • time goes slower on stage, as result - two times managed not to be on right temp
  • get out hands from pockets!

Lessons learned?

  • Definitely such talks are needed if you do public speaking as they help you be more focused on what you want to deliver.
  • Ignite talks requires more time for preparation comparing with regular talks
  • More stress - IMHO this is something personal

So looking back I can say that Ignite type of talk is useful for everyone. As it helps to construct your presentation in more efficient way, to use time more accurately and to focus on main messages.