Last night I had the opportunity to have five minutes to pitch an idea on creating a grassroots network for Downtown Raleigh WiFi at Ignite Raleigh. This was the first time for the event in Raleigh and it was a great success. Good speakers, variety of topics, lots of socializing and great planning by Our Hashtag made it the event of Triangle Tech Week.

I have to admit that I was extremely nervous going up on stage. I had not given a speech on a stage to that many people since I was in college. The difference was that I did not have a set time limit, no slides and I had a podium to use for my notes. If you have not spoken in front of a large crowd and on a stage before, or it’s been awhile, it’s tough! The last time I was that nervous was the days leading up to my kids being born.

To prepare I did about a half dozen practices using my slides as a timer and recording my audio to review. I should have practiced in front of some actual people to get more feedback as doing the rehearsal by myself while viewing the slides. This was not the best strategy as I was comfortable sitting at my desk and telling my story.

I asked Wayne Sutton how he prepared because he killed it in my and many other attendees’ opinions. Wayne said that he watched several of the Ignite presenters on the web from other cities. I viewed only one or two of the videos but should have spent some more time seeing what Ignite presenters of the past had done. Check out Wayne’s presentation here on 30 Threads.

Another challenge of this format is that the timing and pace is crucial. I spoke faster than I should have and when practicing I had trouble breathing. I was a bit nervous leading up to my five minutes. Most people when getting ready to speak in public will have their heart rate jump due to nerves and I tried the three deep breaths trick that I learned in college but my blood was racing when I started. Thanks also to other presenters that I had a chance to speak with and sharing your thoughts and experiences of how it went.

Overall I give myself a B minus as I wanted to do better and with a little more practice and experience I would have been more pleased with my pitch. Also I needed more inflection in my voice as it tends to go flat. Maybe that’s part of the reason that I do my best work sitting at a keyboard and creating communication. Thanks to everyone that gave me feedback afterwards and enjoyed meeting some great people. I hope this posts helps future Ignite Raleigh presenters with their five minutes and 20 slides.

Click here to view video of my Ignite presentation.

Brian McDonald

Brian McDonald started Square Jaw Media to document strategies and techniques he had used over his experience working in marketing and communications since 1990. During this time Brian wrote about many of the exciting Raleigh social media events where great knowledge was being shared and tries to share some of the tips and tricks. . Read Brian's full bio.