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I’m sorry I asked you not to clap for me

March 24, 2011

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Continuing on the Solo Life, where I try to do one thing a week/month by myself, and continuing on the scare the crap out of myself journey, last night I was a part of Ignite Chicago.  Ten-ish people get up and talk about whatever they want for twenty slides, each fifteen seconds long.

Now you may be saying, Saya, this sounds exactly like Pecha Kucha, which you presented at in September 2009; why would this scare you?  While very similar – can talk about any topic for an allotted amount of time with an allotted amount of slides – there were four major differences.

1) No notes!  This was not an Ignite-rule, but a Saya-imposed rule.  I’m in complete awe of people who are effective no-notes presenters.   I thought I’d get in some practice last night.  I wasn’t worried I’d forget what I wanted to say, but notes are a security blanket for me.  So in essence, I presented naked.  Not pretty for you or I.  But accomplished.

2) Five minutes!  Pecha Kucha was much much longer at six minutes forty seconds [aka twenty second slides instead of fifteen second slides].  The amazingness I could’ve spewed with that extra time.

3) Life!  September 2009 was a long time ago.  I’ve done so much since then – traveled to Amsterdam/Paris/Belgium, snared a boyfriend, sold-out the Park West for a little dance ‘n improv show of mine, eaten at a Chick-Fil-A [and many other Southernesque things], added Coffee to services offered from my business, been featured on a bike blog with my Dutch baby, accepted a position as the Chicago partner for CRAVE Chicago, eaten sushi, and pushed a shopping cart around Chicago for seven hours – how can I be expected to talk about my life in less time than two years ago?!?

4) Preparation!  Or lack thereof!  I’m a planner.  I like to create, revise, take a break, revise, break, revise.  For Pecha Kucha, I had, and used, three months.  For Ignite, I had five days to create my slides and my words.  During a ridiculously busy period.  At first I was irked to be given such little time.  But then I embraced it as a challenge.

So, I was nervous.

Ignite took place at one of my favorite venues in Chicago, Catalyst Ranch.  Exposed brick, mismatched comfy furniture, free gum balls and jolly ranchers, every bright color in the universe, high ceilings.

I was second at Pecha Kucha, second to last at Ignite.  Definitely prefer the former.  Being towards the end only furthers the amount of time you question yourself and the amount of people who leave [though I only saw two early-exit’ers last night].

Wide range of topics – how to get rid of your crap, how to make bacon, a person finding solace in driving, how to get and keep customers, myths of the cosmetic industry…  my title was “How to Get Paid To Do What You Love.”

Wide range of presentation skills and approaches, from seated reading from an iPhone, to juggling while talking, to steady eye-contact with the audience to steady eye-contact with the screen.

I’d like to improve in two areas –

1) Speed.  I become a motor-mouth at these things.  I marvel at those who get tons of info out in a controlled and non-frenetic pace.

2) Fluster.  I get flustered when a slide changes before I want it to, which results in sweat, babbles, ums, uhs, overall incoherence.

I learned that sometimes less is better.  Though the presentation could’ve been better in various ways, and perhaps would’ve been if I had more prep time, I got a great response.

Ran out of business cards, line of folk to chat with me afterward, lovely tweets and emails!

“@sayahillman @IgniteChicago Your #ignitechi presentation was great – Who knew you could make a living that way – incredible”

“@sayahillman #ignitechi great talk Saya, to-do lists can be strategic as well as tactical.”

“@timjahn @startupstella Much Thanks for #ignitechi last night – especially liked how personable it is for people that go alone @sayahillman”
“@caseyfictum thanks for coming! @sayahillman is my hero :)”

“I thoroughly enjoyed your presentation and speaking to you last night at Ignite Chicago, Saya.  A lot of what you said will greatly influence the way I’ll navigate independent employment moving forward.”

Great time!  Worth the extra deodorant I had to apply.

Tip: don’t tell the audience not to clap for you.  Upon hearing we sold out the Park West [700 seats!], they all very nicely hooted and clapped.  I replied, “Don’t clap, I don’t have time for clapping!”  Classic smooth move.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 25, 2011 9:53 AM

    Oh Saya, I so feel your pain…and your pleasure at having spoken at Ignite. I spoke last time. I am a very comfortable public speaker. Have spoken a lot! Don’t even usually get too nervous anymore. But ugh! At Ignite, I was a mess. And my talk showed it…I was even a little embarrassed about how I did. But chalk it up to experience. Kudos to you for giving it a go and pushing yourself to do so with some real challenges. Keep inspiring the rest of us to embrace risk…it’s a real gift to the community!


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