My niece just attended her first IGNITE in Denver (#17 there). Tampa Bay just finished IGNITE #4. My niece commented “some great performances and some mediocre”, which is about how it goes with any event more than 3 speakers.
All the speakers can’t be great, but I think it has to do with what you focus on. IGNITE (and TED) is about Passion. It is about telling your story about your passion in 5 minutes. The slides are almost irrelevant.
Many speakers use the slides and the script as a crutch. It makes for a nice technical delivery but an awful experience for the audience. I have sat through more presentations, where I wonder how the speaker holds his job at Cisco or Avaya or where ever. How you can’t talk about your company and its service for 10 minutes without props is beyond me.
Being nervous is normal, but you can alleviate some of those nerves by being well prepared. I always have notes with me, but I rarely look at them. The notes are like Linus’ security blanket. The slides are prompts, to enhance a point, not make one.
The whole point is the story, the idea, the theme that you are trying to convey to your audience. It doesn’t matter if you don’t follow the script as long as you capture their attention enough for them to receive the idea, story, point.
In Tom Peters’ 100 WAYS TO SUCCEED #15: YOU MUST BE ABLE TO ANSWER THIS QUESTION! And the question is: WHAT?S THE DREAM? What mark do you want to leave on your audience? Focus on that and the slides and script don’t matter so much.