Speak at Ignite

Thank you to everyone who applied to speak at Ignite!

Speaker submissions ended June 7th, 2017.

If you missed your chance to apply to speak this year, you can always apply to be in the audience this year.

Don’t forget those talks! We would love hear from you next year.

We usually call for speakers about two months before each Ignite event. We ask you to submit a short description of your idea. A panel of judges reviews each submission in order to select 20 speakers. We announce those speakers about a month ahead of time.

Talk Guidelines

First things first: there arenʼt any rules when it comes to proposing an Ignite talk. We donʼt place any automatic restrictions on subject matter and youʼre free to submit anything you like. Each proposal is judged equally and on its own merits.

That said, our goal is to assemble an interesting program that will inspire the audience and get them talking. So in order to help meet that goal, weʼve put together some notes on what we are and arenʼt looking for in hopes that itʼll help you formulate your thoughts.

Keeping the following in mind, then adding liberal doses of individuality and creativity, will significantly improve the odds of your talk getting chosen.

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    Ignite talks are a forum for ideas, not for marketing.

    This is as close to a hard-and-fast rule as we have. Anything that looks or feels like a proposal designed to market or promote a business, an individual, or a product will almost certainly not be chosen. Itʼs not that youʼre not allowed to talk about your work or your business, but if you intend to do so it should be in such a way that it informs a larger idea.

    Think of it this way: you should never be selling from the stage. A good talk about a good idea (or ideas) will engage and excite people on its own merits. If you donʼt think your proposal fits that criteria then it probably doesn’t.

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    The goal is to get people thinking and talking.

    There are countless ways to do this. For example, you can:

    • Come up with and explain an innovative way to solve a problem
    • Show people a new or unexpected way to look at something familiar
    • Pull back the curtains on a complex process
    • Show how something isnʼt what it seems
    • Show how something is what it seems but maybe should not be
    • Challenge or debunk a preconceived notion
    • Illuminate a fascinating but hidden bit of culture
    • Give people a challenge they can act upon (without demanding that they do so)
    • Present a new way to consider an opinion
    • Present an old but forgotten way to consider an opinion
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    Donʼt propose to speak primarily as a representative of an organization.

    Obviously every speaker by nature represents her or his activities and work. Sometimes thatʼs a critical component of a good talk. But, again, a strong proposal will show that the idea comes first. Your organization (or business/job/cause/politics) should be secondary to the strength of what youʼre proposing to present.

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    Original is good.

    People come to Ignite to see things they havenʼt seen anywhere else. Thereʼs nothing wrong with giving a talk on a topic you have spoken about before but not the same talk and we encourage you to think beyond that. We are looking for talks which are fresh and new.

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    Mind the format.

    Anyone who has ever given an Ignite talk can tell you that they are tough. The format is weird and challenging. So, keep that in mind as you think about your proposal and try to develop something that will work well within the 20 slides, 5 minutes,15 seconds each restriction. Slides advance automatically so you MUST keep pace. Better to build that into your thinking from the beginning – itʼll come through in the way you write up your proposal and, ultimately, make for a better talk if youʼre chosen.

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    Be creative, and have fun.

    The best talks weʼve had have been the ones that were fueled by true passion. If you start there, it will come through in your proposal and that means weʼre much more likely to notice your idea and include it in the program.

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    Take the proposal seriously and treat it as a dry run for the talk itself.

    Itʼs always easy for us to tell which proposals have been thought through and which were cobbled together. Itʼs also generally pretty easy for us to tell which proposals were truly created with the Ignite Tampa Bay format and audience in mind. The ones that get both of these things right always have a better chance of getting picked than the ones that donʼt.

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    Prepare something that wonʼt require you to read from a paper.

    If your talk is selected, we will ask that you not read it from notes when youʼre on the stage. Doing so greatly diminishes the impact. So, when considering your proposal, put together something that youʼll be able to rehearse and then deliver in a way that allows you to fully engage the audience.

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    Watch past talks from Ignite Tampa Bay.

    Some of the most interesting talks from past editions of Ignite Tampa Bay are featured on our Youtube channel. We strongly encourage starting there and getting familiar with what has worked well in the past.

    Still have questions? Just contact us and weʼll be happy to try to help. Please keep in mind, though, that this is an entirely volunteer effort and while we reply as quickly as we can, patience is appreciated.

    Most of all, thanks for your interest. Weʼre looking forward to hearing what you have to say!