Thoughts on My First Ignite Boulder

Last week I had the amazing opportunity of speaking at Ignite Boulder 28. It was one of the best speaking experiences I have ever had.

It started out with a few drinks of beer at the annual Girl Develop It leadership retreat. Everyone was giving Ignite talks at the meet and greet happy hour. I was inspired and had consumed just enough liquid courage.

So I applied for Ignite Boulder 28.

Ignite talks are 5 minutes long and have 20 slides that advance every 15 seconds. The speaker doesn’t have control over the slides so they have to roll with it.

I didn’t think I’d get accepted, but how could you not accept a talk about knitting, the weather and data. The choice was obvious.

I found out I was speaking at Ignite Boulder on November 10th. The event was on December 10th, so I had just about 3 weeks to prepare my talk and get slides ready - AND memorize the entire thing.

I didn’t find out that I couldn’t bring notes up there until a week out. Which sent me into an immediate “what am I getting myself into” mode. I re-read all the emails and there was one small (seriously 8 point font) line in the congrats email that said:

ps… You may not, for any reason, read your talk. Speak from the heart, nobody wants to hear a report. We have been relaxed on this rule in the past but I’m going to stand firm on this, if you bring a script onstage we will cut the mic and have a nice learning moment. :)

Which to ME means that I can’t just read my slides…right?

There were a few little miscommunications like this throughout the event. One person said I get 1 comped ticket, another said 2, but only after I had already purchased a second ticket.

As an event organizer myself, things like that make me very very frustrated.

But, I powered through, got my slides to the right person on the right date and had surprisingly memorized my talk.

We had a practice event a few nights before the event, and I was really happy for this. I had never given one of these talks, so it was nice to meet everyone before hand, have a beer, and freak out together. Getting candid feedback was really great and I was inspired by everyone’s talk!

The night of the event I was surprisingly NOT nervous, at all. But once I walked up on stage to get an idea of the set up I just thought to myself “Holy shit this is a big room”.

The event is held at the Boulder Theater, which can hold about 900 people. That’s a lot of faces staring back at you.

I was second after the intermission and had the glory of watching everyone go before me and watch them absolutely kill it on stage.

But I did it, I got up on that stage and I talked about Knitting, the weather, data, and even made some funny jokes. The crowd seemed to really love my talk and in one case didn’t stop clapping and I missed an entire slide. But that’s okay because I couldn’t remember what I was supposed to say on that slide anyways.

The after party was amazing and I am still humbled by the amazing community that is Ignite Boulder. They made me feel like a celebrity - even if it was only for 5 minutes.

You can watch me talk for 5 minutes below:

Photos by Kit Chalberg Photography.