Ignite Phoenix Blog

5 Reasons Why Your Submission to Ignite Phoenix Sucks

I’ve had the pleasure of both presenting at Ignite Phoenix (first presenter at the first event, so there) and sitting on the selection committee for IP2. I learned a lot from both experiences. Presenting taught me to clearly and concisely speak on a subject. I’ve been riffing on the subject for years, but the “20-slides-in-5-minutes” constraints forced me to focus on just the salient points. Serving on the selection committee taught me something different: some of you really suck at writing your submissions.

With that, here are five reasons why submissions to talk at Ignite Phoenix suck.

1. Your biography is twice as long as the description of your talk.
Look, I’m sure you are a fascinating person. Your bio clearly indicates that at least one person thinks you are. And as much as this presentation is about you, it’s a LOT more about what you are going to speak on.

2. Your description doesn’t describe much.
Now isn’t the time to be esoteric or mysterious. Now is the time to clearly demonstrate what you know. Perhaps more importantly, it’s the time to demonstrate what you will be sharing with the audience. Avoid asking questions. Strive to give answers.

3. You’re obviously trying to sell something.
I admit I have a bias against people just looking for an opportunity to pitch me the latest and greatest thing they offer — free or not. Others on the selection committee (and I’m not a charter member or anything) may be less averse. But do try and indicate what is so special about your product
or service if you must pitch it. And remember — I’m a skeptical cynic.  Yeah, I suck at Christmas.

4. Your focus is too narrow.
A wide group of people attend Ignite Phoenix. They have wide interests. Few want to hear a talk on the superiority of the Blue Diode over the Red. Yes, I made that up. But some submissions seem that way. Don’t go for the deep dive on a topic. Find something unique and interesting about the Blue Diode that appeals to someone who doesn’t have a Master’s Degree in Material Science. You know, like 95% of the room?

5. There’s no pizazz.
If your description of your talk is boring… we’ll assume you are boring. We’re probably wrong and you’re of the more fascinating humans to have mastered heel-to-toe walking — but how would we know? While you’re focusing on the first four, remember that this last one is the icing on the cake. And it can be the one to put you one step ahead.

A final thought: Ignite Phoenix gets LOTS of submissions. Don’t take it personal if yours wasn’t selected. Either this round or the round before. With only a limited number of slots available, it’s natural that some talks won’t make the cut. If that happens to you and you want to know why, I suggest some studying and reflection. DO NOT sit there the evening of the event thinking about how much better your talk would have been than one you just heard. Go back and look at the submissions that were selected and see how they were crafted. Therein lies your answers.


  • http://desertstandard.com Roger

    Yeah Evo!

    I love the first point on the bio’s being too long. If your talk is selected and you kill it there will be a ton of people coming up to you to find out more about you. Your talk is selected based on the description of what you are going to talk about, not who you are.

    This leads into pizazz being critical. There are a lot of submissions, how does yours stand out?

  • http://www.socialmediawiz.com Shailesh Ghimire

    Great pointers. Very helpful. Will need to review this as I put my thoughts together.

  • http://www.PhoenixRealEstateGuy.com Jay Thompson

    Suggestion to submitters — read this BEFORE you make a submission. Trust me. I speak from experience….

  • http://fastwonderblog.com Dawn Foster

    Wow! I’ve been on the selection commit for all 5 Ignite Portland events, and all of these ring true for us as well. We just went through a very painful selection process for Ignite Portland 5 with 86 proposals for 17 talks, and we rejected proposals for all 5 of these reasons.

    Best of luck with your Ignite (which is just a few days after ours in February).

  • http://www.writingiscake.com Jeff Moriarty

    @Dawn – thanks for the note! Josh gave me some of the initial pointers to get Ignite Phoenix going, and he mentioned how many submissions you had! That had to be tough to choose!

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