Friday, June 18, 2010

Slideshow Karaoke at IgnitePhx

So how do you explain those pictures?

My daughter Jana has been working with Ignite Phoenix for a while and has encouraged Mary and me to attend. Things matched up and we were able to attend our first Ignite on June 11th. Ignite is a set of 18 presentations put on by people that are passionate about something. Each presentation is 5 minutes long (no more, no less) and includes 20 slides that automatically advance every 15 seconds. Some of the presentations are merely good, the rest are fantastic.

There is a break in the middle of the presentations and when the second half starts up again, they do something called "Slideshow Karaoke." (No, it doesn't involve singing.) For participants, they pick three names from members of the audience. Each contestant then gets up on stage and makes a short presentation punctuated by 6 slides that they have never seen.

So this is what happened.

Mary and I got into the auditorium area early in order to get good seats. As we were waiting for things to begin, an IgnitePhx volunteer came around asking for people that would like to be in the pool for Slideshow Karaoke. Since my daughter was one of the volunteers, I figured I'd support the effort and put my name in the hat. I calculated that the chance that I'd actually be chosen was remote at best.

The announcement of the contestants came at the end of the first half, right before the intermission. Much to my surprise, I was the first contestant chosen. I was certain that this was Jana's doing but was assured by everyone that it was merely a random draw.

The explanation of the rules was straightforward. We would get up on stage in a predetermined order (I was second) and give our presentation. Each of us would have six slides that would automatically advance every 15 seconds. We wouldn't see the slides until they were on the screen. Although we asked about the content of the slides or at least some hint about the theme of the slides, we were given no clues.

As we were leaving for intermission, someone came up and asked who was going second. I acknowledged that I was. The reply was a smile and a snicker.

At that point I had about 20 minutes to figure out what I was going to do with my 90 seconds on stage. (I did actually calculate that six slides times 15 seconds per slide is a total of 90 seconds.) I also took into account that we had just experienced some really great presentations, and I didn't want to embarrass either myself or my daughter. (Jana was going to have to work with these people in the future.) I thought about different stories and approaches and themes, and finally settled on talking about what I do.

As intermission finished, I gathered with the other contestants back stage to go over the logistics - timing, getting on and off the stage and using the microphone. Then it was time to go and the perpetrator of all this got up to explain Slideshow Karaoke to the audience. He went over the rules and also noted that he was the only one that had seen the slides that he had put together (while he was drinking one evening.) At that point I felt my first and only twinge of nervousness.

After that, things happened quickly. The first contestant was up and making her way through the slides. I got ready to move on stage and the switch slide came up giving me 15 seconds to get into position and start talking. I started with the only thing that I had scripted, "I'm Scott Gustafson and I teach Economics."

At that point my first slide came up. It was a black and white picture of two old men with long beards taken about a hundred years ago. I made some comment about this being how my students see me when they come into class at 7 a.m. and then just rolled on from there.

Ninety seconds later the switch slide came up, and I exited the stage.

After we were all done, we got back up on stage, and they had the audience vote for the best presentation by cheering. Jana had sent out a tweet telling everyone to cheer loudly for her Dad so I won.

Slideshow karaoke was a lot of fun. I got lucky and had great slides to talk to. The first slide set it all up and then I was on a roll.

As I recall, the slides were the old men, a college student drinking a beer, a pretty girl sleeping, the flames, the tattooed stomach and a crying kid. I'm not real sure about that last one.

So that's where those pictures came from.

If you get the chance, go ahead and put your name in the hat. Slideshow Karaoke is a lot of fun.

And yes, I really do teach economics at seven in the morning.


Anonymous Jana Knapp said...

Dad, I'm pretty sure you won it all on your own! You completely owned that stage.

June 18, 2010 at 12:40:00 PM MST  
Blogger Unknown said...

That was me!!! I talked you into putting your name on a card! You rocked slideshow karaoke, man.

June 18, 2010 at 1:44:00 PM MST  

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