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PNJ.com Ignite Pensacola at Seville Quarter -- Just 5 minutes to blow their minds


  • March 27, 2013
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� Ignite Pensacola speakers get straight to the point TRAVIS�GRIGGSʥ [email protected]ʥ�FEBRUARY�9, 2011 More than 200 people packed into�Seville Quarter�Tuesday night to hear 18 local residents take five minutes to pitch an idea, make a point or tell a story. Organizers envisioned the event as a forum for residents to talk about ways to make Northwest Florida stronger, and the majority of the speakers at the event gave talks with a business or economic development angle. But some of the best received speakers were those who bucked the technology and business trend and just told a good tale. The event was the first gathering of Ignite Pensacola, part of a global brainstorming network, which has hosted similar events in other cities since 2006. Ambient electronic music whirred and whistled from speakers in the bar, where a half-dozen projector screens glowed with short technology-oriented video clips. Attendance was diverse, ranging from teenage boys to women in their 60s. Speakers were equally diverse, ranging from young professionals to old professors. The event was organized by Michael Frank, 27, an engineer with Pensacola technology firm AppRiver. Frank was inspired by similar events that have been held across the country. �I thought to myself, why not have one here. I think there are enough interesting ideas here to make this happen,� Frank said. Quick Turnaround Five minutes is short time limit in the public speaking world � a venue known for rambling politicians and professors. Rather than relying on a moderator with a timer and a big hook to pull speakers off the stage, Ignite events use a unique format to hold speakers to a quick pace. Before the event, each speaker submitted 20 slides about their topic. The slides were projected on a screen during their talk. The slides advanced automatically every 15 seconds, forcing speakers to get to the point rather than ramble. When the last slide ran out, the turn was up, and the next speaker was introduced. �It really levels the playing field between the experienced public speakers and the people who have never done anything like this before,� Frank said. Organizers envisioned the event as a forum for residents to talk about ways to make Northwest Florida stronger, and the majority of the speakers at the event gave talks with a business or economic development angle. But some of the best received speakers were those who bucked the technology and business trend and just told a good tale. The event was the first gathering of Ignite Pensacola, part of a global brainstorming network, which has hosted similar events in other cities since 2006. Ambient electronic music whirred and whistled from speakers in the bar, where a half-dozen projector screens glowed with short technology-oriented video clips. Attendance was diverse, ranging from teenage boys to women in their 60s. Speakers were equally diverse, ranging from young professionals to old professors. The event was organized by Michael Frank, 27, an engineer with Pensacola technology firm AppRiver. Frank was inspired by similar events that have been held across the country. �I thought to myself, why not have one here. I think there are enough interesting ideas here to make this happen,� Frank said. Quick Turnaround Five minutes is short time limit in the public speaking world � a venue known for rambling politicians and professors. Rather than relying on a moderator with a timer and a big hook to pull speakers off the stage, Ignite events use a unique format to hold speakers to a quick pace. Before the event, each speaker submitted 20 slides about their topic. The slides were projected on a screen during their talk. The slides advanced automatically every 15 seconds, forcing speakers to get to the point rather than ramble. When the last slide ran out, the turn was up, and the next speaker was introduced. �It really levels the playing field between the experienced public speakers and the people who have never done anything like this before,� Frank said. Highlights: Avoiding riots, flying in on an �Indiana Jones-style plane,� and food �donations� required to gain cooperation from corrupt local police stations. AppRiver security specialist Charles Armour gave a talk about information security on mobile devices. Armour�s topic was technical at times, but was also interspersed with simple advice, like: Don�t mumble your password out loud as you�re typing it. �It�s a very common problem,� Armour said, to the chuckling audience. After a couple speeches about economic development and green energy, college student Samuel Fleming took to the stage wearing jeans, a sport jacket and a wild beard to give a dramatic talk titled: �Crouching Tigers, Hidden War: Sri Lanka exposed.� How did Fleming pick his topic? �It was just really interesting,� Fleming said. Frank said organizers are planning to hold another Ignite Pensacola event in September. Chris Cain, the director of software development at AppRiver, came to watch the event, and said he was surprised by the number of speakers and the diversity of their topics. Cain said he�s more of a technology guy and not every topic was interesting to him, but the short time limits allowed a good variety. �I think the format helps it not seem so difficult for the speakers,� Cain said. �I could talk about anything for five minutes.� Would he sign up to give his own five-minute talk at the September event? �I am considering it,� he said, smiling.
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