Ignite London 7
5 Minute Showpiece

After winning an award for my first Pecha-Kucha-style presentation in 2011, I got a bit adventurou…
After winning an award for my first Pecha-Kucha-style presentation in 2011, I got a bit adventurous and wanted to explore constrained presentation formats a little deeper.

Ignite is a another constrained format, although slightly shorter than Pecha Kucha: Each presentation must have 20 slides, and each slide auto-forwards after 15 seconds, resulting in a total presentation time of exactly five minutes.

London is fortunately hosting regular Ignite nights, and when a specific call for Olympics-related presentations was tweeted in September 2012, I handed in a bold proposal: To present an extremely condensed version of the London 2012 Olympic Ceremonies.

The proposal was accepted in October, and the original idea suddenly seemed much less attractive when I realised that I had to deliver - but I did.

Olympic Ceremonies in 5 minutes - Tim Neumann at Ignite London 7 from chichard41 on Vimeo.

An Opportunity for Preparation

The shorter and more constrained presentations are, the harder they are to prepare: While I often run longer sessions without much preparation, I put quite a bit of effort into this one, and I heard from fellow presenters that they did the same - a raised stage and a potential audience of over 300 people can be a good motivator.

But how do you condense two intricate four-hour events into five minutes?

It was clear from the outset that this presentation was always going to be a story of our experience as volunteer performers, with perhaps a few anecdotes; but as there were so many, it was hard to decide what to leave out.

However, the concept developed rather quickly, along with a wish to not do it alone - I wanted to have someone else on stage to occasionally divert attention away from me.

I was fortunate enough to find courageous and enthusiastic volunteers in fellow drummers in Veronica Apolinario, Sarah O'Brien and Juan Ortiz who were happy to go along with the idea, but their involvement also meant that I had to work out a choreography.

Initially, I was planning to use a few more props to simulate the chimneys and other items, but it turned out that some products cannot easily be sourced even in London (I now have a suggestion for a task in The Apprentice), so I ultimately skipped a few ideas.

Getting the timing right is essential for any Ignite presentation, which is several degrees more difficult when other people are involved.

I therefore invested quite a bit of time in developing a set of instructions, which are represented in the cue sheet below.

 Show Day

I initially wanted to run a rehearsal a few days prior to the event, but as we could not find a date, we agreed to meet up early for a run-through in the backstage area.

The organisers themselves were slightly surprised that there was quite a substantial backstage area at the venue 93 Feet East (now closed), and although the actual green rooms were locked, we had enough space in a cold, dirty hallway.

We could not rehearse on stage, so resorted to a few dry run-throughs to clarify the sequence and actions - this was the point when the detailed preparations turned out to be extremely useful.

Our position in the running order meant that we had to miss the first few presentations of the second of three sets, but the somewhat unexpected surprise of a few people appearing from behind the screen was worth it.

With only minor slip-ups, the presentation was well received overall - I tend to build some humour into the very early phases of my presentations to assess the responsiveness of the audience, and early laughs demonstrated that I had a very receptive, good-humoured crowd, which injected a boost of confidence to make the presentation thoroughly enjoyable.

An integral part of Ignite presentations are of course the slides: As our stage presence sometimes obscures the slides in the video, they are represented below for reference.


A big thank you to