How to Give a QS Ignite+ Talk

Thank you for sharing your knowledge at the upcoming Quantified Self meetup or conference. At QS we typically encourage our speakers to use a modified Ignite format we call Ignite+. Below are some details that you will want to know about as you plan your talk.


All of the Quantified Self talks are delivered by people like yourself. We are an enthusiastic group of experimenters, tool makers and learners. Our main method for knowledge dissemination is the Show & Tell talks at the meetups. However, because there is so much information to share and such a great group of attendees, we changed the format of the typical Show & Tell talk to an “Ignite” style, with time for a few questions at the end. The format is great, audiences really love it, and there is more time to say what you need to say than you might think at first. Still, the format can be a bit challenging, so please read the rest of this message for some logistics and resources.


A typical Ignite talk has a set time and slide limit. The QS-Ignite format is a 7-minute, 30-second talk (7:30) with 30 slides that automatically advance at a pace of 15 seconds per slide. Don’t worry, it is a really fun format and there are a lot of techniques, tips and tools to help (covered below).


This is the length of 3 full Gettysburg addresses. Yes, you read that correctly. But you have to decide what your main point is. Also, it helps to remember that the QS meetups are mainly about peers coming together to meet each other, discovering shared interests, and producing new knowledge and connections. One of the things you are doing with your talk is signaling what you care about and what you are working on. There will be many details about your projects that are left out. But people will come find you, ask you questions, and your talk will spark many valuable conversations.


Your talk is limited to 30 slides. However, you do not need to have 30 slides. You can have one slide that just repeats 30 times even if it’s just your name or pictures of cute kittens. Feel free to be creative and hack this format any way you want. Just remember that we will be auto-advancing your slides every 15 seconds. Although it seems tough at first, it is a great structure, and produces great talks.


Tip 1: Watch other Ignite talks. This is probably the most important, and most overlooked thing that every Ignite speaker should do. There are numerous examples of great Ignite talks scattered around the web. We’ve included a few links here but be sure to check out for more examples.

How to give a good Ignite Talk – Scott Berkun:

How to defeat biometrics: 

Tip 3: Practice your talk. You can practice your talk 8 times in an hour. (That should be plenty of practice!) Seriously, don’t walk up to the stage without having read your talk to somebody beforehand. Also, remember that your slides will be auto-advancing every 15 seconds. Take this into account when you’re practicing.Tip 2: Write it out first. Make a 30-point list and write out exactly what you want to say, or at the very least an brief outline of what you want to say. This helps you think about what you’re going to talk about, but it also provides a great basis for developing your slides.

Tip 4: GO SLOW! Don’t think you have to speak fast. It is not a race. Edit your talk rather than speed up your delivery. Feel free to add a “take a breath” slide to the middle of your deck.

Tip 5: Keep it simple. Remember, you are talking to your peers. You don’t need to be fancy or theatrical. We want to know who you are and what you are working on. Just tell us, and we will love your talk.

Tip 6: The three questions. Here is a template to structure your talk. You can do your talk any way you like, but if you are stuck or want help, remember that this template always works: What did you do; How did you do it; What did you learn. The most important part of this template is: What did you learn? Make sure this takes up at least 90 seconds of your talk.

Tip 7: More pictures, less text. The fast pace of the Ignite talks limits the audience’s ability to read large amounts of text and long bulleted lists. Try to use your slides in way that they reinforce what you are speaking about instead of just repeating the exact words.

Tip 8: Share your information. Put your contact information on at least one slide (usually the last). We are all about fostering connections and the more ways people can get a hold of you the better.


Ernesto Ramirez has agreed to help if you would like to practice your talk. If you would like to run through your talk in advance (a good idea; remember, practice!) please just email Ernesto. You can send him your slides and set up a time to give your talk via Skype.


That’s fine too. We want to hear from you, and we are grateful that you are sharing your knowledge.


If you have questions just let us know in the comments or shoot us an email!

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