Ignite Boulder has become one of the most entertaining and popular tech events here in town. But it’s no longer the big tech-scene secret it was the first few times around; I actually heard people talking about it on Pearl Street the night before (“See you tomorrow! Goin’ to Ignite?” Hells yeah!”).
After attending Ignite Boulder 2 and Ignite Boulder 3, I had submitted a topic that was accepted for presentation: “Confessions of a NiteRide Driver” (name altered just slightly to protect the innocent). By the end of the voting, I’d made it to 3rd place. All this talk about wanting to present and thinking I could present would finally be challenged — could I present in front of almost two hundred people?
On top of that, it ended up being far more than two hundred people. Despite the inability to bring beer into the venue, organizer Andrew Hyde decided that a large venue where we could include more people was more important than being able to have beer. Instead, we had a pre-party at The b.side Lounge and secured some sweet deals for sushi afterwards, and held Ignite at the 475 (more or less)-capacity Chem 140 lecture hall on the CU campus. Suddenly it really became a test of my nerves.
You see, I’m not really a public speaker. I get pretty nervous in front of that many people. I’m much better at interacting with people in small groups or separately. I rush a lot in front of too many people (as it started out when I presented at Ignite).
Before the presentation, I took some hints from my friend Ben, who had himself presented in the previous Ignite. He advised me to practice with a stopwatch, allow time for laughter, and follow a script. I kept to those guidelines for the most part; I decided to work on a script from an open-ended viewpoint, that is, to have a general list of things to say but figure out the best way to fit it into five minutes by using a script. I went over my script a few times, at least hitting some of the most important parts, but not adhering to it perfectly — my goal was to just know the material well enough to spout it off without hesitation.