Hey, speech students! Here’s your chance to critique your instructor. (Well, actually, you had a chance with the course survey; here’s another one!) I gave the first talk at the inaugural IgniteSD event in Brookings on April 21. You could look at it as 60-some people coming to a diner to hear a bunch of visual aid speeches. You could also look at it as 60-some people spending a spring evening giving a darn about what their neighbors have to say.

Here’s my Ignite talk on blogging:

The video doesn’t capture all of the slide show. The Ignite format requires each speaker to put together a sequence of 20 slides, each timed to display for 15 seconds. That’s 5 minutes on the dot, no more, no less. To keep my main points in time with my slides, I had to practice more than usual and fight my urge to go off on tangents. I like the discipline of the format, although it does restrict a speaker’s ability to adjust to the audience — to hold for laughs, to elaborate on ideas the audience seems puzzled by, or even to stop and take questions. But at five minutes a pop, that just means you concentrate on interacting with the listeners before and after the talk.

My critique notes:

  1. Check position on stage: I started standing right in front of my slides! I’m used to my classroom, where the projector is on the ceiling and I can move freely without blocking the beam. At IgniteSD1, the projector was on a table, and I didn’t catch it right away because the beam was just below my eyes, at my chin. Eventually I realized what a shadow I was casting and moved stage left.
  2. Some enunciation gets mushy — I notice early on the word pajama-clad disappears. Part of this may be audio pickup from the camera mic, but no excuses: you should always spit your words with the intention of making your voice clear to the weakest microphone or hearing aid in the house.

Ignite is a lot of fun, for speakers and listeners. Keep an eye out for an event in your town!

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