Outreach Training Class: Week 4

Outreach Training Class: Week 4

Welcome to week 4 of the SciFund Challenge outreach training class for scientists! Last week we focused on delivering our message through blogging. This week we’re going to jump right into the deep end and have you deliver your message in person. We are going to use a very specific format called an Ignite talk.

This week’s exercise has five parts:

Part 1: Watch a few Ignite talks.
Part 2: Prepare an Ignite talk.
Part 3: Practice your Ignite talk with a class partner.
Part 4: Talk about the experience of preparing and delivering your Ignite talk in group discussion sections
Part 5: Keep going with Twitter.

First off, let me start by saying: Don’t panic!

So what is an Ignite talk?
Ignite events are organised by volunteers and give participants the opportunity to talk to the public about something they are really passionate about. The catch is, they only have 5 minutes to do it in! Ignite’s motto is: “enlighten us, but make it quick”! Each participant brings 20 slides to accompany their talk; each slide advances every 15 seconds, whether the speaker is ready or not! This is what makes the format so challenging but rewarding.

Part 1: Getting started with the Ignite format

Start by watching a few Ignite talks.
I really like Hillel Cooperman’s Ignite talk on Lego and Dianne Stronks one on smiling. And here I am, cheating a little doing a related format called PechaKucha where you get 20 slides for 20 seconds, so I had a whole 1 minute 40 seconds extra, but you get the idea.


Part 2: Preparing an Ignite talk

Think of an Ignite talk as a 5 minute monologue with timed visuals. To prepare your talk you will need to decide on a topic, prepare your 20 slides/images, map out what you are going to say to accompany each slide and then practice, practice, practice.

Start by watching this great Ignite talk on how to give an Ignite talk by Scott Berkun, while Cory Forsyth also has some great tips:


Choose your slides carefully. They can be informative (but avoid long quotes and complex diagrams), symbolic (back up the point you’re making) or decorative (an attractive screen to speak in front of). Try to avoid the situation where you’re trying to explain the slide, as that eats up your 15 seconds really quickly. Last but not least, be creative. 15 seconds per slide equals about 2-3 sentences, depending on how fast you gabble! If needed you can duplicate a slide (so the same image is on screen for 30 seconds).

You will need to learn how to make your slides automatically advance every 15 seconds in whichever package you view your slides in. Here are instructions for how to do that in PowerPoint and in Keynote.

Let me repeat, don’t panic! And don’t spend a week trying to get your slides together. You can do that when you do one for real!

Part 3: Getting some practice

Don’t worry, we aren’t going to insist you go out and give a real Ignite talk, but trying it with an audience is best. So, for part three of this week, we’ll be pairing off with another class participant to practice our talks. On the week three page of the private SciFund wiki, you’ll find a table where you can find other class participants to partner with. Try to find a partner who is not in your field.

By Friday, please connect on your own with your partner to do your Ignite talks with each other. I would recommend using Google Hangouts and the screenshare app on the left so your partner can see your slides. Here are instructions on how to share your screen using Google Hangouts. As before, keep an eye out for for jargon and double-meaning language!

Part 4: Group discussions

Once you and your partner have done your Ignite’s, let’s talk about it! We have scheduled a series of Google Hangouts for facilitated group discussions for the end of this week. You can sign up for a hangout at the week 4 page of the private SciFund wiki.

Part 5: Twitter

Let’s keep rolling with Twitter, being sure to use the #SciFund hashtag so we can find your tweets.

Send at least three tweets about the Ignite talks you watch for inspiration.
Send at least three tweets telling us how you found the process of preparing or delivering your Ignite talk.

Where to go next:

If you fancy going out and getting some experience of public speaking, there are plenty of places you can start. Check out your local museum and see if they run a science cafe/cafe scientifique series. Or try local community groups, like Rotary, University of the 3rd Age (U3A) and Zonta. But for a real thrill, check to see if there is a local chapter of Ignite, Pecha Kucha or NerdNite in your town.

Good luck!