Ed Barnett from Ignite reveals the magic formula for selling yourself (not your business!) on stage.
Ignite is a better way to present. It’s a showcase of punchy five minute talks, each with 20 slides at 15 seconds per slide. We experienced Ignite Cardiff at Cardiff Bay’s Glee Club, and now we view presentations with fresh eyes. A speaker’s mission is simple: to get the conversation started. There’s no need to go on and on! Keen to learn more, we met up with Ed Barnett, one of the organisers of Ignite Cardiff. Read on to revamp your own presenting skills.
About Ed Barnett
Ed’s clear-headed, practical attitude to doing things differently is impressive. Few people know that he first came to Cardiff via the underground dance scene as a visiting DJ! In the ten years he’s lived here, he’s built the successful printer companies CopierMate and CartridgeMate. From Ed’s point of view, Ignite is the clear way forward when it comes to presenting. It’s an engaging, efficient format that empowers speakers to maximise their impact. “The structure really makes you focus on your point!”
Getting hooked on Ignite
Starting in Cardiff, Ignite has spread like wild-fire across the UK. Ed’s first taste of Ignite was an event in Bristol in 2011, where he got the bug to speak. “I was excited by the idea of being on stage, and, with some deliberation, I applied to deliver my first Ignite talk!”
Fast-forward to the Cardiff 2012 Beer Festival. Serendipity in full flow, Ed randomly bumps into Ignite Cardiff co-founder Claire Scantlebury. She leans in towards Ed, and says “Ed, how much do you like Ignite Cardiff…?” Then she offers him the reins.
“It was a no-brainer” Ed grins. Since 2012, the Ignite Cardiff events have grown from cramped evenings in a cosy Cardiff pub to high-profile (though still warm and friendly) sell-out shows. “It shows how getting out and about, meeting new people, is how to make things happen.”
People are powerful
Ed reckons that momentum builds when you surround yourself with the right people. The Ignite Cardiff team has gathered varying personality types – “waifs and strays” – who are exceptional at what they do. He’s proud of what the team has developed – and rightly so! Ignite is a powerful platform, where diverse speakers share brief snapshots of themselves that excite, move and inspire others. “Creative people and analytical people often seem to complement each other,” he sums up. “They can come together to achieve magical things”.
The magic formula
So what makes a great Ignite talk, then? Ed gives us the benefit of his experience as a presenter, listener – and the bloke who selects the speakers! So if you’re thinking about applying, listen up. Ed’s advice is to do three things.
First, be human. A talk is always more powerful if it comes from your own experiences, and is personal to you.
Second, use as little text as possible. Each slide should be an impactful image that punctuates your point.
And third, take your listeners on a journey. Tell them what happened, why it happened, and end your talk with a call to action. What should your listeners do now, having heard the speech? What message should they take away from it?
Ed is clear that Ignite events are not for “business-card thrusting.” Ignite is about inspirational people getting together in one place to bounce ideas off each other. And that is exactly why the events create so many positive relationships. Pioneers, entrepreneurs and free-thinkers get the chance to show the audience who they are, and what makes them tick. So a website developer can’t talk about a great site she’s recently designed – but she can explain the lessons she’s learned about people’s buying habits through her work.
“Sell yourself, not your business,” Ed concludes. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that customers don’t really buy into a company. They buy into you.”
Discover more at Ignite Cardiff’s website