Present from the Main Stage at 16NTC

The Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) is a pretty unique gathering—unique because it is a space for the nonprofit tech community to gather each year; this Community is unlike any I’ve come across. This Community is defined, from my perspective, by the generosity of individuals to share their ideas and experiences freely with each other; the dedication that people have for their missions and the collective impact we all can make together; and joy and laughter that are spread every day amidst a world of bad news and incredible odds. The NTC program (of over 120 educational sessions!) is put together by the Community suggesting sessions and topics, then voting on the hundreds of submissions to help us narrow down to the final agenda. It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, to know that we want to showcase Community members up on the main stage—sharing their ideas and stories in front of 2,000 attendees!

Interested? This is your chance! Anyone can submit an application to present at the NTC during the morning plenary. And the deadline is quickly approaching, so be sure to get your application in right away. Here’s everything you need to know to submit and make a great presentation.

What Is Ignite?

Ignite is a fast-paced, fun, thought-provoking presentation format that educates and entertains. Ignite talks give you the opportunity to share your fascinations and passions with the NTC Community. But, there’s a catch: you are strictly limited to five minutes, and 20 slides, which advance automatically every 15 seconds. This is not a sales pitch. It’s a passion pitch.

If you want to see what it was like last year, you can watch the 15NTC Ignite sessions via video.

There are two Ignite plenaries at the NTC. Each one has a general theme that we hope unites a diverse set of stories and presentations. Be creative with your interpretation of the theme and have fun.

Ignite Theme 1: My ____ Career

Tell us about your first career or your fifth; maybe it is your AWESOME career; or your dream career that hasn’t been realized yet.

Ignite Theme 2: NPTech Makers

Whether you’re making technology solutions or hacking together cables and duct tape (or maybe making incredible impact with basic community resources), we want to hear your maker stories!

Upcoming 16NTC Ignite Dates

November 1, 2015: Ignite Applications Open
December 15, 2015: Ignite Application Deadline
December 23, 2015: Ignite Applicants Notified
February 20, 2016: Ignite Presentation Slides Due
March 22 – 25, 2016: Rehearsals on the Main Stage

NTC Ignite Application Guidelines

  • Preference will be given to nonprofit staff
  • We are looking for presentations that are interesting, fun, challenging, and provocative
  • Preference will be given to new voices and new topics
  • The best Ignite presentations mix personal stories and experience with broader ideas

Ignite Presentation Recommendations

To help you have the best experience, I asked last year’s Ignite presenters for their tips and recommendations. Here’s what they said:

“Don’t wear a shirt with something on the back that is relevant to your talk if you never turn around so that people can see it :(” – Jennifer Breakspear

“Its all about the transitions – unlike a traditional PowerPoint, I planned more for what I would say as the slides changed rather than explaining each slide in detail. Also, focus and cut. You want to say something small very well because you’ll fail at saying anything large.” – Greg Schneider

“In preparation: Outline your story, show your slide deck to two trusted individuals, run through it several times with at least one of those trusted individuals. The prep helps you refine your story, eliminate what doesn’t resonate, make it real.

“The day of: Wear something you feel awesome in so you feel your best. Ask someone you know and trust to be there to give you a hug right after!” – Debra Askanase

“1. Practice out loud (and in front of a mirror) several times without notes. Use a timer to practice the timing. 2. Take advantage of the opportunity to practice on stage before the live presentation.” – Meico Whitlock

“Prepare for the transition in the slide more than anything else. And treat the slides as a visual punch line to what you’re saying. They’re way more effective if they illustrate what you say without repeating what you say.” – Peter Panapento

“In addition to practicing what you’re going to say, practice where you’re going to breathe. Depending on how much you’re saying on any given slide, you might be trying to cram a lot of words into a short amount of time. I used to play trumpet and I would write breath marks onto my sheet music so I knew where to take a pause and/or a breath, especially in complicated solos. I ended up doing the same thing with my Ignite talk.” – Liza Dyer

And Jeff Coburn’s tips take up a full post that you can read over on Medium!

Amy Sample Ward
Driven by a belief that the nonprofit technology community can be a movement-based force for positive change, Amy is NTEN’s CEO and former membership director. Her prior experience in direct service, policy, philanthropy, and capacity-building organizations has also fueled her aspirations to create meaningful, inclusive, and compassionate community engagement and educational opportunities for all organizations. Amy inspires the NTEN team and partners around the world to believe in community-generated change. She believes technology can help nonprofits reach their missions more effectively, efficiently, and inclusively, and she’s interested in everything from digital equity to social innovation.