Tag: Submit a Spark

Ignite Denver 17: Submit a Spark

You'll absolutely nail your Ignite Denver presentation with you attend our workshops!
You’ll absolutely nail your Ignite Denver presentation when you attend our workshops!

Ignite Denver 16 in February was the first Ignite event I ever attended and when I left the Oriental Theater that night, I thought to myself, “I should speak at an upcoming event.”

If you’ve been inspired by a past speaker, the Ignite Denver organization or you just think it’s about time the city heard your perspective on a specific topic, then it’s time for you to consider submitting a spark.

Mark Twain once said, “There are two types of speakers. Those who get nervous and those who are liars.” In a study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health, 74% of people suffer from Glossophobia, more than the percentage of individuals who fear death.

Just think about the last time you spoke in front of a large group of people. Did your knees lock? Did you immediately sweat through your shirt in an embarrassing manner? Well you’re not alone. If you decide to submit a spark to speak at Ignite Denver, we recommend that you attend our magnificent workshops (don’t worry, they are really helpful and super awesome). All workshops are at Shift Workspaces and start at 6pm:

  • Monday, May 5  – Presenting at Ignite
  • Monday, May 19 – Creating a Good Ignite Presentation

Also, before you submit your spark, there a few requirements you should consider.

  1. It’s a no-brainer but obviously you must be available the evening of Ignite Denver 17, Friday, June 13. (We’re sorry but we have to mention this little tidbit. Thanks for bearing with us.)
  2. Attendance at the two run-throughs prior to June 13th is required. These run-throughs are scheduled for Tuesday, May 27 and Monday June 2 at our home-away-from-home Shift Workspaces.
  3. Ignite Denver is not an opportunity to sell your product or services. If you want to creatively inform or inspire Ignite attendees, then you’re just the person we need.
  4. If you spoke at Ignite Denver 16, we appreciate your enthusiasm but we’re going to ask you to participate as an attendee rather than a presenter so that everyone gets a chance to share their stories.

Sparks aren’t due until Friday, May 9 so if you’re still on the fence about submitting, attend our May 5th workshop at Shift Workspaces to connect with Ignite Denver volunteers and learn more about being presenter. Of course you can reach out to us on Facebook or Twitter with any questions, comments or concerns.

Struggling to Create a Pitch for Ignite Denver 16? We Can Help!

Throughout our workshop series, one of the things that we’re constantly discussing with people interested in submitting a spark (the pitch) is how to properly word their title and pitch to get the maximum number of people interested in their topic.

Let's all avoid bad pitches. And bad imagery puns.
Let’s all avoid bad pitches. And bad imagery puns.

We get emails, tweets and messages about it. A lot. So if just knowing that you aren’t alone in your uncertainty helps you feel more certain, then there you go. Problem solved. Now go submit a spark.

If that doesn’t help and you need more guidance, well, read on.

The number one most important thing that you can do when developing your spark is come up with a catchy title. What can you do to make your title stand out?


  1. Connect on an emotional level. Marketing 101, boys and girls; people make small (and sometimes big) decisions based on emotions. If you can connect emotionally with your title, you’re doing a good job.
  2. Make it funny. People respond to something that makes them laugh. Hell, even just makes them smile. If you get a chuckle, chances are, you’ll get a vote.
  3. Make people curious. If your pitch is enticing enough, with just a touch of mystery, then people will vote just to see what your answer is.

Here are some examples of successful spark titles:

  • Confessions of a Seemingly Social Recluse
  • Teach your kids how to manage money or they’ll move back home when they are 30.
  • Bitches Love Candles (And Other Courtship Fallacies)

These titles get the voter a little curious, evoke an emotional response and/or they make people smile.

Your pitch should elaborate on your title and be equally as compelling. No more than three or four sentences though. Seriously, no one should have to read a pitch longer than your presentation. Keep it to a paragraph, yo.

Random Tips

Not to be an asshole, but unless you have something truly revolutionary, people don’t seem to respond to sparks about social media. I can’t say for certain why, but it’s likely because our audience is super media savvy already. They want to learn something new. Teach them your ways!

Also, many of you know the first rule of Fight Club, but Ignite Denver also has a first rule and that is absolutely NO shilling. If your pitch sounds even slightly promotional for your business, your startup or your nonprofit, say adios.

The big question people ask me after that rule, is what if they want to mention their job because it lends itself to credibility? We have no problem with you mentioning what you do for a living or where you work as long as it lends credibility and is not a promotional attempt (trust us, we’ll tell you if it is during the run throughs).

The MOST important thing you can do when submitting a spark is to make it something you are passionate about. Why should we care as much about your topic as you do? Tell us briefly in your pitch, then elaborate in your presentation.

Instead of telling us about what you do from 9-5, tell us what you do that makes your heart soar, adrenaline pump or mind engage. Or just make us laugh our asses off. Either way, you’re golden, kid.

If you have ANY more questions about submitting a spark (which closes THIS FRIDAY, btw), please email us at info@ignitedenver.org.

Spark Submission is Open for Business!

Remember that time last year, after you went to an Ignite presentation and you were all, “I’m totally going to submit a spark next time!”

Well guess what, buck-o, the time is now.

I get it. Talking in front of a crowd is nerve wracking. What if you trip going on stage? What if your mind goes blank and you freeze at the first slide? What if you’re so nervous that all of your bodily systems give out on you at once and you vomit all over your shirt and wet your pants at the same time?

You after Ignite Denver 16 (except you're not a baby).
You after Ignite Denver 16 (except you’re not a baby).

The good news is that all of these are very unlikely. You may blank out and you may trip coming on stage. The vom/pee thing probably won’t happen even though you’ve stated something similar in a hyperbolic fit of refusal to speak in public.

The even better news is that we’ve developed a set of workshops to face those exact fears and get you so pumped and so prepared for Ignite Denver 16 that after you leave the stage with thunderous applause following you, you’ll think to yourself, “Why didn’t I do that sooner?”

So submit a spark today and begin your path to the stage at The Oriental Theater.

A couple of things to remember:

In order to be eligible, you must be available on the evening of the following dates:

  • Monday, February 10th
  • Monday, February 17th
  • Thursday, February 20th

These are the two run throughs and the event itself.

If you want to come to our remaining two workshops to gain even more confidence on presenting, here’s the scoop:

  • January 20th, 6 pm, Shift Workspaces: Presenting at Ignite Denver
  • February 3rd, 6 pm, Shift Workspaces: Creating a Great Presentation

In these, we’ll give you an overview and pointers to help your presentation kick ass and we’ll also answer any questions you may have. Our goal is to have the process be as transparent as possible so there are no surprises and nothing to be afraid of on the night of Ignite Denver 16.

So what are you waiting for, throw your hat in the ring and get pumped to be part of an awesome Denver event. Submit a spark today (submission closes on January 24th)!

Ignite Denver 14 Spark Submissions: Now with Extra Minty Flavor

minty-freshHopefully by now you’ve heard that spark submissions are open and you’ve already started thinking about the topic that you want to present to an audience of 400 (think of all the lives you’ll change). We encourage anyone and everyone to throw their name in the hat for presentation consideration but there are a few guidelines to consider before you commit mind, body and soul to Ignite Denver 14.

  • Be available June 13th. Yeah, it’s a no brainer, but please make sure that your schedule is open on the night of Ignite.
  • Attend one of two (or both, because the more run throughs you have, the better your presentation will be) mandatory run throughs on 5/27 and 6/10. If you don’t attend one of these, you will be removed from the lineup. Seriously. </hardass>
  • Be ready to rock some minds.

PLUS, this time around we’ve added Ignite Workshoppes (yes, they’re super artisan, hence the “e” at the end)! In order to help our community be better Igniteers, we’re developing a series of get togethers/round tables to help you or that “friend of yours” feel more comfortable with the Ignite process. None of it is mandatory, but our goal is to help you end up with a finished product that kicks more ass than an angry donkey in a pen with a lot of other donkeys or some other metaphor much better than that one.

Take a look at the schedule and see if any of them look interesting to you:

Creating the Perfect Pitch (April 29th): Learn what to do and what not to do when developing an idea for a spark and turning it into a pitch. What types of topics do well? What’s old hat?

Organizing Your Thoughts into a Presentation (May 6th): Tips for taking your idea and putting it into slide form. The best way to craft the “flow” of a presentation so that the information is actually accessible, meaningful and memorable.

Presenting to a Crowd (May 20th): A workshop focused on honing public speaking skills. Talk about common roadblocks and mishaps that occur during public speaking and offer solutions on overcoming the challenges.

First Run Through (May 27th): Go through first round of Ignite presentations. It’s mandatory that presenters attend this meeting or the following run through (June 10) in order to be able to present on the 14th.

Second Run Through (June 10): Same as above, but there is an opportunity for an additional run through for those that attended the first run through.

Even if you aren’t presenting on June 14th, we still welcome you to join in on any of these workshoppes. The topics we want to cover apply to a lot of other avenues besides just Ignite Denver (read: these are just plain good workplace skills to have), so anyone can come and learn. I mean, that’s what we’re all about, right? Learning.

All of the meetings will take place at Shift Workspaces, one of our awesome sponsors, at 6 pm on the dates listed above.

We hope to see you at one or all of them, or any interval in between one and all.

I Think My Spark Topic is too Boring

Right now, I’m sure there are some of you thinking, “Yeah, I have a couple of really great ideas for sparks, but they’re all on really boring topics and I don’t think anyone would be interested in hearing me talk about [insert perceived boring hobby or interest here] for five minutes.”

That’s where you, my friend, are totally wrong and I’ll tell you why.

We’re all adults here, so I’m going to assume that you’ve heard the phrase, “It’s not the size of the boat, it’s the motion in the ocean that counts.”

The same thing goes for your Ignite Denver presentation; if you take the time to make your topic relatable and engaging, just about anything can be interesting.  Plus, remember, you’re speaking to a room filled with geeks. They all bought tickets because they want to learn something new. They want to be enlightened. Bring a completely new topic to the table, but put some spice on it.

If you still don’t believe me, take a look at some of these presentations on topics that might seem a little dull, but are actually really entertaining and interesting sparks.

How to Buy a New Car

This presentation actually has me stoked to go out and buy a car. I’m not kidding. I’ll be watching it again when the time is right for me to set foot in a dealership.

Synchronicity: The Science of Good Luck

The nerd in me just rejoices all over the place for this presentation. The guy breaks down quantum mechanics using Simspon’s references!

Cup Noodle: Innovation, Inspiration and Manga

Fantastic startup lessons as told through the invention of Cup o’ Noodle soup.

You guys, these are just three examples of Ignites being held around the world every month! The topics being covered are mind boggling. Chances are someone has even talked about your idea in some other city and everyone loved it. So no more, “My topic is boring” excuses, because we don’t believe that they exist.

Now get out there and submit a spark to Ignite Denver 13 and rock our worlds with your giant topical knowledge.

I Have a Great Idea for a Spark! But Public Speaking is Scary

I’m going to tell you all a little secret.

When I was in high school, I was one of the shyest people in my class. I was quiet and timid and rarely spoke out. I sat in class, terrified that the teacher would call on me and I would have to say something in front of 20 other people. The only way that I could say anything in front of more than five strangers was to sing it. Go choir geeks!

I’m sure at this point, you’re wondering where I’m going with this besides the fact that I’m a staunch supporter of the arts in public schools (oh, wouldn’t that be an interesting spark!). My point is that if I can get up in front of a bunch of strangers and tell them why bitches don’t actually love candles, then you can present on just about anything your beautiful heart fancies.

Public speaking making you a little verklempt? Relax, you've GOT this!
Public speaking making you a little verklempt? Relax, you’ve GOT this!

Do you still throw up in your mouth a little bit thinking about speaking in front of strangers? Well, here are a couple tips that can help calm your nerves and, bonus, NONE of them involves picturing the audience in their underwear.

Know your stuff. Nothing is more engaging than when someone knows what they’re talking about when they get on stage. Wait a minute. You’re presenting on something you’re passionate about, so you already know your stuff! Plus, you’ll become even more familiar with it while you prepare your deck. You’ll be a master by the time you step out on stage. You’ve got this!

Practice in front of friends. It’s important to run through your presentation alone to fine tune it, but practicing in front of friends will help you get used to having an audience. Hold up! There’s a run through a week before Ignite, so you’ll be able to practice this in a respectful, small environment and get feedback to help make your presentation even better. This speaking in public thing will be a piece of cake.

Don’t memorize your presentation. There’s a difference between remembering and memorizing your presentation. When you know what you want to say, but not the EXACT words, you can go with the flow and look more natural. Trust me, the audience can tell.

Acknowledge your jitters. I learned a while ago that ignoring the feelings you’re having will only make them worse. It’s OK to be nervous before you speak. Some people who make a living presenting still get nervous before they get on stage. Use that nervous energy to propel you out onto the stage and give the kickass presentation I know you can give.

The audience is rooting for you. No one comes to Ignite Denver because they want to criticize every presentation. They come to be enlightened by the speakers (pssst, that’s YOU!) and to learn something new. They’re rooting for you and you’re going to get a lot of cheers and clapping and hear “good job!” after you present.

Getting up in front of a lot of people seems pretty daunting and, yeah, it takes guts to do it. But I firmly believe that anyone can get up and entertain and inspire a room full of people when they’re passionate about what their spark.

So what are you waiting for? Submit a spark today! The deadline is January 25th, so don’t miss the deadline!

Making Sparks Fly: What Inspires You?

Unless you’re the most boring person in the world, there’s something out there that floats your boat. Hell, maybe it’s boats. Maybe I’m being presumptuous and you hate boats. I’m sorry I brought up boats. My point is we all have something that hits us right in the feelers and fills our lives with purpose.

Ignite Denver Sparks
I can’t stop thinking about boats now.

Chances are that at least once a week, someone gets you started on that one thing that gets you really worked up. Maybe it’s over lunch at work or maybe it’s after a few drinks at the bar. But once you get going, you don’t stop.

What if you had a chance to share your passion with a lot of other people? Would you take it? Would you get up on stage and tell people why they should feel as strongly as you do?

If you said “yes” then you should probably be filling out the spark submission section on the Ignite page. No. Seriously, go there. Now!

For those of you still on the fence, here are five more reasons you should submit an idea for a spark:

  1. It’s a different kind of challenge. If you’ve never tried to organize your thoughts into slide form, it’s an interesting and new experience. You’re forced to think of way to best explain your thoughts in bite size pieces. Do you think the makers of Reese’s peanut butter cups got their peanut butter to chocolate ratio correct when they first made Reese’s minis? Hell, no! That took work and so will your Ignite presentation.
  2. Meet people as passionate as you. One of the best parts of Ignite is meeting the other presenters. Each of them has a topic that’s very different than yours, but they all feel equally passionate about their topic. Having that much excitement in one room is a pretty rad feeling. You should try it sometime. LIKE NOW.
  3. Get a rush from something other than jumping out of a plane or shooting heroin. I’m not saying you know how awesome heroin is or anything and I certainly don’t ever want to experience the rush of tossing myself out of a plane (Kipp is that cray, I’m certainly not), there is a rush you experience from getting out in front of 200 people and talking to them for 5 minutes without passing out or soiling yourself.
  4. Have total strangers laugh at your jokes. If you ever want to get drunk with power, have an entire theater laugh at your jokes. That’s all I have to say about that.
  5. Free drinks. Yes, you’re going to get a drink ticket. Yes, frequently your friends will buy you a drink before or after (preferably after because doing an Ignite presentation while you’re three sheets is remarkably difficult) your presentation. And if you kill it on stage, sometimes strangers will buy you a drink. It’s awesome.

So there. Look at how many awesome reasons you have to present at Ignite Denver. I think you should do it. You would be really amazing.

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