Thank you for agreeing to give a presentation at Ignite Sydney. We’re extremely grateful for your help in making this a stand-out event.

The Rules of Ignite

The Ignite format is really simple. You must have 20 slides, and each slide must change automatically after 15 seconds.

To get an idea of what it’s all about, take 5 minutes and watch this:

An excellent talk, with a strong story containing a conflict and its resolution

What is it like on the night?

Ignite Sydney takes place in the Oxford Art Factory, an excellent underground (literally) music bar on Oxford Street. Most nights of the week people head there to see a band, so the atmosphere is excellent for performance. It’s definitely not your typical dry conference centre or board-room setting.

There are around 500 people in the audience, and they’re drinking alcohol, so the vibe is rowdy but extremely supportive. The audience are there for a good time, and they want you to succeed.

There is a large screen behind the stage, and the laptop is set to the right of the stage – the laptop mirrors exactly what’s shown on the screen behind you (we don’t use Presenter Mode). There’s not a lot of room to move, so you need to keep fairly still while you’re speaking.

Here’s a side-on shot showing the presenter, with the laptop to her right and the screen directly behind her:

Ignite Sydney action shot

Putting your slides together

Before you fire up your laptop, consider the advice of Slide:ology and go analog. Use post-it notes to plan what you really want to say.

Treat the slides like a set of index cards that you use to prompt yourself for the next point. That way, if you get slightly out of sync with the slides it won’t matter so much.

Use a single idea per slide, and illustrate it with a nice clear image.

Our volunteer mentor, Tarek from Public Speaking For Life, has a great blog outlining How to write a killer speech in 6 simple steps, which works perfectly for the Ignite format. Please take a few minutes to read and absorb his excellent advice.

How to write a killer speech

Finding free (or cheap) legal images

It’s very important that you only use legal imagery in your slides. This means you can’t just search Google Images and copy/paste the first image that you find. Below is a list of good sources of free (or cheap) legal images. Make sure you use high-quality images of at least a few megabytes each so they don’t look pixellated on the big screen.

Start strong

You don’t need to talk about yourself on the first slide – the MC will introduce you, and explain where you’re from and what you’ll be talking about. This means you can launch straight into an exciting and compelling opening, and grab the audience’s attention from the first slide – like a good action film.

But (especially if your topic is technical) don’t assume the audience knows what you’re talking about. Those acronyms may mean something to you, but to us they could be meaningless. Put yourself in our shoes and make sure it still makes sense.

Good use of audience participation

Can I use animations?

We don’t allow the use of animations like GIFs, moving text, images appearing after a delay, embedded videos, etc. They’re mostly distracting, often fail, and are unnecessary in the Ignite format – you’ve only got 15 seconds, so don’t waste it with animations.

Some suggestions

Do it without notes! There will be a monitor facing the presenter so you won’t need to look back at the screen.

Make sure you practise your presentation a few times in front of a live audience (your partner, your colleagues, your cat) to get your timing right. You’ll be amazed how fast the 5 minutes actually goes.

We’ll be hosting a full dress-rehearsal of all the presentations the week before the big night so you can iron out the kinks in your presentation before a supportive audience of your fellow presenters.

Most of all, remember that Ignite is meant to be a bit of fun – it’s an antidote to all the boring conferences and lectures that people are used to. So make your presentation entertaining, grab a drink, and enjoy yourself.

What format?

You can use any version of PowerPoint or Keynote. We don’t provide you with a template, so use whatever template you like (but please, no logos or corporate templates).

The projector resolution is Full HD (1920 x 1080px) widescreen. Please note that we don’t use Presenter’s View so be prepared for this.

You can embrace your inner rock-star if you feel the urge


If you need any help, or you’re stuck for ideas, drop us an email at and we’ll do our best to help.

Thanks again, and see you on the night.