Monthly Archives: January 2012

Reinventing radio for digital platforms: My first Ignite Talk

(Or more properly stated: how do you deliver a killer 5 minute¬†Ignite Talk¬†when David Carr, Steven Levy, Tim O’Reilly, and a bunch of other folks you’ve respected for years are your audience.)

So… I survived my first Ignite Talk at News Foo 2011. I really had no idea what I was getting into when I signed up to speak. I read Scott Berkun’s excellent post, which gave me the idea to “hack the format” and use the same slide back-to-back for a 30 second effect while I played audio with my iPhone.

The subject of my talk was reinventing audio for digital devices. Broadcast listening is a linear, time-boxed experience. What might radio sound like if we invented it today? I drew on two projects I’ve worked on at NPR. The first was “You Are Here”, a location-based mobile audio project: what does radio sound like if we know where you’re standing? I got to work with NPR’s Robert Smith, an exceptionally talented storyteller. While “You Are Here” never saw the light of day, some of the lessons and some of the code made it into the second project.

The second project I discuss is the Infinite Player, a personalized, continuous listening experience. This one has gained media attention and our team at NPR believes it holds great promise.

I will do another Ignite Talk, but I can’t emphasize the amount of work it takes to even do a mediocre talk. I can prep a one hour presentation in 30 minutes. A five minute Ignite requires 30-40 hours worth of prep and practice.

A few takeaways:

  • You can never rehearse too much.
  • It’s better to practice all the way through than to keep stopping, as improvisation is key.
  • Edit yourself. You only have time for two points per slide, tops.
  • Sleep is key. I didn’t sleep at all heading into News Foo, and had such a good time I didn’t sleep there either.

How’d I do?