Leadership · Curriculum · Lifelong Learning

I’m not an expert. I’m forever-emerging; a lifelong learner. But I LOVED this experience, and I can’t wait to share it with you. This was my first time presenting at ISTE, and my first time giving an ignite talk. And it was so special to me. 

At the 2017 International Society for Technology in Education conference, I had the honor of sharing My #iste17: Walking Away A Better Leader in an ignite presentation. By ISTE’s definition at iste.org, the ignite format is where “Presenters will have just five minutes and 20 slides each to share their passions in a continuous rapid-fire presentation!” Slides auto-advance every fifteen seconds.

Especially in this ignite format, I experienced first-hand what it takes to share your message effectively. I mean, seriously: Did you see this 2017 ISTE Round One Ignite lineup? I was surrounded by the best in the business!

And what I learned from them as well as reflections from my friends before and after were priceless takeaways for me to apply in future experiences. Here were four of my takeaways as a first-time ISTE Presenter:

1–Speak from the Heart.

You have to believe in your own topic. It helps if you’ve actually experienced your topic or have a personal connection yourself. In one of the thousands of ISTE breakout discussions, my friend Melanie Farrell asked: “So, what’s the difference between a presenter and a speaker?” I’m sure someone has a researched answer out there, but I see this contrast as: “A presenter shows slides. A speaker speaks from heart.” You can just tell; you can feel it. Passion comes across when the speaker can look you in the eyes, potentially go off-script, and push thinking in your mind by going through your heart. It’s easy to speak from the heart when sharing The Iste Story and applications of ISTE Student Standards

2–Content Knowledge + Presentation Skills = Sending Effective Message

Disconnect: Content experts demonstrate few presentation skills.

Disconnect: Polished public speakers lack content or substance.

Connect: Presenters transform into speakers when their content embraces the audience with a warm hug, a firm handshake, and an enthusiastic high-five.

3–Keep It Simple

Even the best-sent message is not genuinely communicated unless it’s well-received. In a world where we’re all inundated by billions of external stimuli in our environment, the speaker has to connect with the audience. Don’t use too many fancy words. Even as I compose this reflection, I’m reminded by column-writing friends and professional learning family members who advise: “Keep your blogs and presentations in conversational language.” And not too long!

4–You Do You.

How many TED and TEDx Talks have you seen? There are so many fantastic speakers just a click away! You can do your research. You can learn tips from others. You can practice sharing your message 200 times. But in the end, you have to do you. No matter how much respect you have for others, no matter who you have on your #Edu-Pedestal(s), you can’t be anyone else. And you shouldn’t try to be anyone else. You do you. That’s what makes YOU special. That’s how you can add unique value to your professional learning family. That’s how you can authentically reciprocate relationships with your professional learning community.

I absolutely loved this whole ISTE Ignite experience. The amount of learning I am still processing is unparalleled. And I can’t wait to do it again!


3 Replies to “4 Takeaways from an ISTE Presenter”

  • Hey Pal,

    First, this is a great reflection on what matters for presenters — particularly the “you do you” part. I also think your criteria apply to classroom teachers, too. There’s no single formula to being a good teacher — but if a person had the traits you describe above, I think they’d be on the right track.

    Second, this is a great blog post. Probably the best you’ve ever written. I was engaged from beginning to end, the language was simple and easy to consume, and I learned a thing or two!

    Totally dug it. Well done.

    Rock on,

  • Great post, Kyle. I love that you lead by example and always take time to reflect on your experiences, thinking, and beliefs. You rocked the stage, not an easy task at ISTE, and gave me one more example of how to Ignite to use with my students. Thanks!

    • Thank you for the kind words, Jennifer! And thank you for supporting me at ISTE. Having you and the group there was so comforting. It really meant a lot to me. It was the chance of a lifetime and I will never forget it. Thanks!

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