Category: Ignite Denver 24

What Kat Thinks… About Excuses

Let’s discuss reasons why you might be reluctant to submit a spark idea to Ignite Denver. And then, let’s read my responses as to why those ideas should be ignored.

1. I’m not a good public speaker.

To this I say: Me neither!

Don’t get me wrong – it’s no secret that I’m comfortable onstage. However, I’m OK when I get to wing it. I enjoy being up there because I don’t have to pre-plan things. I’m an improviser. Until I got involved in Ignite Denver, I actually turned to the stage primarily as self-care tool to treat my anxiety. While onstage, making things up on the spot, the ugly part of my brain was forced to take a time-out. I guess I sort of used it as a mindfulness exercise.

Giving a talk onstage that is structured is scary. For most people, it’s a really vulnerable experience. I’m pretty sure we’ve all heard the statistic that public speaking is the greatest fear out there. However, I challenge you to find a single Ignite Denver participant who will tell you that their speaking experience with us was anything other than exhilarating and empowering. We have an amazing team of individuals whose only job is to put you at ease and aid you in putting together the best presentation possible with all the love we can muster.

2. I want to talk about something that might not be real interesting to others.

You would be so surprised by how open and receptive the Ignite Denver audience is to topics. I think, oftentimes, it’s the seemingly “weird” talks that have wound up being the most captivating. Hell, you might tap into a topic that inspires someone to do something or try something or laugh about something they never had considered until that moment you started talking.

3. I’ve never been to an Ignite Denver show before. I should do that first.

Did you know we have our own YouTube channel? We do! I had never been to a show prior to my first experience as an Ignite Denver speaker. However, I spent hours watching the videos. I got so inspired by seeing the talks online. If someone has mentioned Ignite Denver to you and suggested you should get involved, please don’t let your lack of involvement up to this point be the reason you choose not to give it a shot.

4. PowerPoint is scary and the idea of having to put together slides is totally overwhelming.

I am so with you on this one. If you’ve been able to convince yourself that you have a topic you want to discuss, and you’re willing to risk being onstage, please do not let your fear of putting images to your presentation be the reason to stop you in your tracks. I’m technologically challenged. At committee meetings, it’s not unusual for me to be the only one without a laptop in front of me. Shocking confession: I still use notepads. My calendar is made of paper. I KNOW! I’m a freak of nature. The thing is, the slides are secondary to your talk. If your spark is selected, I would encourage you to write your speech, create an outline, or however you build your talk most comfortably first. The slides don’t have to be the focus until later. Your talk is enhanced by the slides, not the other way around. The slides should be predominantly built up of images, not words. Hell, you could even build your slides by drawing them yourself, or using photographs you’ve taken.  I promise, the audience is more focused on you than the pictures behind you (unless you have included pictures of yourself dressed up as a zombie clown or a photograph of poop in the toilet – you know who you are). Again, our committee is here to help you. If you are worried about building your deck of slides, there are so many of us totally ready to offer assistance and support.

5. I’m too old. Or too young. Or any other limiting personal opinion you may have of yourself.

The greater the diversity, the better our show. If anything, this excuse should be a specific reason as to why you absolutely should submit an idea.

Please consider taking a chance on Ignite Denver by submitting a spark idea. You still have time! Everyone is so stoked to read about what you want to say. Join us tonight for an educational workshop: Building a Spark Pitch. You have until September 1st to submit a spark idea here. The voting process will be open through September 8th, and speakers will be announced on September 11.

Personally, I want to meet you. I want to see you try something new. So, if nothing else, do it for me. You’ll make my day.

Want to hear more from Kat? Check her out over here.

What Kat Thinks …Talking Smoothies and Ignite Submissions

In my latest attempt to kick my day off in a semi-healthy manner, I’ve recommitted myself to making breakfast smoothies. It’s been a frustrating process. Sadly, I’m not one of those folks who traipses into the kitchen, nary a recipe to be found, only to toss in a pinch of this and a cup of that and maybe add a little more this to create the most incredible dish on the planet (or smoothie, in this case).

99.999% of the time, I have to follow recipes verbatim. Even when I’ve made the same smoothie everyday of the week, the one time I attempt to do it from memory inevitably winds up tasting like pizzle.

Side note: No idea why the word “pizzle” popped into my head. However, it did remind me of Arsenio Hall in Coming to America during the brilliant, groundbreaking scene with Samuel L. Jackson, as seen here:

Anyway, back to my smoothies. If I do everything like I’m supposed to, according to the directions, usually, it tastes pretty good. If I don’t use a recipe and try to wing it, I’m pretty much assured it’s going to be disgusting.


It happened last week, and it was nothing short of magical. I had frozen cherries, and I’d even found a cherry smoothie recipe online. However, I didn’t have all the ingredients it called for. So, I threw caution to the wind and went for it. Cherries, almond extract, vanilla yogurt, maple syrup…oh yeah. It was definitely a “go big or go home” kind of experiment. Also, I think I’d actually had my coffee prior to making breakfast, so I felt I had superpowers.

It was so delicious. It was like angels descended from the heavens, leapt into the blender, and sacrificed themselves for the sake of my tasty breakfast.

Are you sitting down? Because here comes the metaphor that ties all this back to Ignite Denver: My miracle cherry almond smoothie is your submission idea. It goes against logic. There’s no reason to talk about your topic of choice other than the fact that you feel you must. It seems utterly ridiculous, but you submit the idea anyway, because you have to.

Be the cherry almond smoothie, friend. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Eh, not entirely true. You could wind up with another crap smoothie, but you could surprise yourself.

OK, so trying this again: Be willing to be the crap smoothie, friend. Do it, because you know there’s a chance you might wind up being a not crap smoothie.

Crap and smoothie are two words that shouldn’t incorporate the same sentence. I’m spiraling here.

Try something new. Despite feeling like you’re limited in scope, and presenting at Ignite Denver feels totally scary and unfamiliar, risk it anyway.

You have until 9/1/2016 to submit an idea. Go for it.

What Kat Thinks …and Other Brilliant Insights from our Emcee

When people have asked me about what to present at Ignite Denver over the course of the past few years, I’ve suggested they talk about their passions. And while pursuing that direction of thinking has provided countless amazing sparks, I’ve come to realize that focusing solely on our life passions can limit what options we have for presentations.

This time around, if you’re considering submitting a spark idea, either for the first time or as a repeat presenter, I’m going to challenge you to be different. Create something that will surprise people. Hell, create something that will surprise you. You don’t necessarily need to change the trajectory of a person’s life.

Do you buy collectible spoons with your name on it when you go on road trips from those shops along the side of the highway? Can you describe your first high school dance experience? Just how bad WAS your first job? How do you rank Halloween candy? What makes zombie crawls so magical? Be honest: Do you think adult coloring books are cool or weird? Why?

You don’t have to be funny, by the way. Some people find collectible spoons to be very serious business. For real, though – don’t be funny if you don’t want to be funny. Some of my favorite presentations have simply opened my eyes to things happening around the world I didn’t even realize were happening.

As the emcee of Ignite Denver, I’ve done several sparks since 2014. There have been a few times when I’ve known exactly what I’ve wanted to say. However, there have been an equal number of presentations I’ve thrown together at the last minute simply because I couldn’t think of anything “good” enough. Surprisingly, some of those talks turned out pretty great. For example, it wasn’t until I started talking about how much I loved the month of November that I actually realized that, dude, I really do love November.

This time, I’m approaching the process differently. My excitement for Ignite 24 has already begun to percolate. I’m undertaking this challenge to talk about something quirky, too. Here are a few ideas I’m mulling over right now:

· I Hate Possums

· That One Time I Got A Brazilian Wax on a Dare

· It’s Time I Come Clean: I Love Historical Romance Novels

Will I actually create a spark about one of these? Maybe. Am I excited to see where this line of thinking goes for me and the other speakers? Heck yes. Go for it, you guys. I can’t wait to see what’s up your weird, deviant little sleeves.

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