I set myself the challenge of preparing my first Ignite presentation as fast as possible.

The Ignite presentation format is a 5 minutes long presentation with 20 slides and with the slides advancing automatically every 15 seconds. It’s the presentation equivalent of a haiku or sonnet. It’s a very challenging format which can take forever to prepare.

Here’s the way that I did it:

1. Sketched the outline using my Presentation Planner

I used my normal presentation planner which I teach to all my clients. Here’s a picture of my planner – as you can see neatness was not important. I just wanted to get my key message and sequence of ideas down on paper.


Click on the image to see a larger view.

Time: 10 minutes

2. Converted planner to 20 slides

I typed what I wanted to say into the format of 20 slides:

SlideSorter view

Time: 1 hour

3. Packaged into 15 second blocks

I then used the “rehearse timings” button and delivered the presentation:

Rehearse timings

The Slide Sorter view (above) showed me how long I spent talking on each slide.

My aim was for each slide to take 13 to 15 seconds. The reason for this is that I think it’s better to have to wait a beat for a slide, than to be running out of time and constantly playing catch up.

When I first tried this out I was all over the place, some slides taking 7 seconds and some 34 seconds. I spent time rearranging, deleting and massaging. In the screen shot above you can see that I had got most of the slides close to 15 seconds, but I still had some work to do to shorten some.

Time: 2 hours

4. Created visual slides

I only started creating visual slides once I had my storyline packaged into 20 neat slices of 15 seconds each. Here’s what my visual slides looked like:

Ignite slides slidesorter view

Time: 2 hours

5. Printed out my notes

Ignite is one type of presentation format when preparing a script is virtually essential during the preparation phase. Working from a script allows you to massage your sentences to  fit the 15 second time blocks. A slight change in sentence structure can make a significant change in the time it takes to say something. So this is one occasion where you should plan to say it the same way every time (not normally something I recommend).

I printed out my verbal slides (shown in point 2. above) as handouts – 2 to a page:

Print as handouts

Time: 5 minutes

5. Rehearsed

I set my visual slides to advance automatically at 15 seconds and started rehearsing. IMG_5127Using my two-screen set-up and Presenter View I was able to see how long I had to go before the slide changed. My major frustration at this stage was that I couldn’t find a way in PowerPoint to record my narration at the same time as having my slides automatically advance every 15 seconds. This meant that I couldn’t playback my slides and audio to check my timing. If you know how to do this I would love you to add a comment.

This step took the longest as I fine-tuned my pace to get my timing just right. For example, I wanted my dead parrot slide to appear just as I said “dead parrot”!

Time: 3 hours

6. Delivered

I used notes for the actual presentation as well. I could have spent extra time memorizing it, but I didn’t see a sufficient pay-off for that extra time. I had rehearsed enough that I did spend most of the time connecting with the audience.

Time: 5 minutes!

My presentation was videoed but unfortunately the audio didn’t work, so instead I’ve produced a Slidecast using Slideshare: