"Now, where you go when you die is an age-old question. Here's the answer: 7th Avenue and Jefferson." Stacy Holmstedt didn't skip a beat between appearing on stage at the Tempe Center for the Arts and beginning her presentation about what happens when you die. Her audience was eating it up. "If you're an organ donor, that's great! You're going to Central and Camelback." Another zinger from Holmstedt and the audience was in stitches.
Yet those in attendance Tuesday night weren't a bunch of stiffs and this was not a mortician conference. Five minutes earlier CJ Cornell talked about the "Cargo Cult of Entrepreneurship." Five minutes before that Nicholas DiBiase enlightened those in attendance to the benefits of "Food Security in Urban Phoenix."
Seemingly unrelated? To anyone who has yet to experience Ignite Phoenix, you betcha.
What is Ignite Pheonix? The concept is simple,: 18 people have 5 minutes and 20 slides each to talk about whatever they are passionate about. If audience members want to find out more, links are provided.
What's not so easy to grasp is how interesting this method of micro-presenting is when put into practice. Every five minutes the topics change so if you're not too interested in the current topic you need only watch it fly by before another hits the stage.
Ignite Phoenix 4 featured presentations on topics including astrolabes, personal growth through travel, the power of failure, local female musicians, building desktop applications that use the Nintendo Wii remote, and why every high school needs a robotics program just to name a few.
Kicking off the night, Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman expressed his disappointment that the event wasn't named Ignite Tempe. Packed full of pep as usual, the Mayor went as far as to give out Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon's cell phone number to the audience of more than 600 people and encouraged them to call and let him know the event should be called Ignite Tempe.
Halfway through the night, Ignite's Jeff Moriarty introduced three randomly chosen audience members to perform a "slideshow karaoke" presentation. Each person was given six slides to riff on with no prior knowledge as to what they were in for. One presenter started off by explaining that he would be talking about his various phobias. The first slide popped up displaying a man curiously doing the splits behind a concrete column to which the presenter exclaimed that he is terrified of people who hide behind columns; especially if they do the splits.
Audience participation is strongly encouraged at Ignite Phoenix in the form of twittering. Audience members with their eyes glued to their iPhones or laptops made up the bulk of those in attendance, and during the intermission various tweets tagged #ignitephx were displayed on the presentation screen so those in the room and online could see what others thought of the presentations.
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We caught up with one such Twitter maven, @kammiek, after the show to find out what she thought of the event. "I'm going to say what I tweeted which is 'smart, creative people turn me on,' " she said.
To find out more about Ignite Phoenix and to cast your interest into the ring for Ignite Phoenix 5, visit www.ignitephoenix.com.