Using the IGNITE Presentation Format to Jump Start a Class


Ignite is a presentation format that forces the speaker to get to the point fast. Slides are advancing quickly and automatically which forces speakers to be far more concise and thoughtful than they would be in any other format. Speakers think more in terms of messaging than explanation. Since several speakers follow each other many interesting ideas are shared with the audience very quickly.


The goal for this teaching strategy is two-fold:

  1. I was looking for a teaching strategy allowing students to practice concise messaging without consuming a lot of time. Students are good at listing and describing but they struggle drawing concise conclusion or extracting a nuanced message from data and facts.
  2. I’m always looking for unexpected ways to start a class and stimulate thinking and discussion.

I started using the strategy this semester for the first time. Overall, I saw an improvement in designing concise messages. This could be due to the presentation format but also because students learn from each other. Short Ignite presentations at the beginning of the class proved to be a good discussion starter. Students like the fast pace and realize quickly that this type of presentation needs quite a bit of thought and preparation. In coming semesters, I plan on playing with instruction, numbers of slides and slide length to maximize the learning outcome.


Originally: Each speaker is allotted 5 minutes and 20 slides. Each slide has one idea. Slides advance automatically every 15 seconds. Speakers follow each other.

Variation for class:
  • Students design 3 slides, 15 seconds each (white background, no design templates, emailed before class so I can assemble the PowerPoint).
  • PowerPoint: In transition Pane uncheck ‘On Mouse Click’, check ‘After’ and set time. screen capture showing the checkbox and where to set the time
  • Between presentation slides I insert a name slide (3 seconds). This allows the currently presenting student to finish and the next student to get ready. Students just stand up and speak after they see their name.

Recommended Resources

Contact Information

Sabine Zempleni,, Assistant Professor of Practice, Nutrition and Health Sciences

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This is really great and I think it would also work really well for Zoom class. Just FYI, there is a way to time and auto advance in Google slides:

Thank you!

1. This is great! I would love to try this out with my classes. It incorporates peer-to-peer learning so I would count that as pulling triple duty!
2. Do you assign the same questions/topic to everyone in class, or do you divide up a topic so that each student contributes a portion and you put it together in logical order?
3. Do students know ahead of time in what order they'll be presenting?
4. Do you encourage students to provide feedback to others on content/style?
5. I assume the task is for credit? Any tips on grading?

2. I use this in a graduate presentation class. The topic for this class is to make their case for a topic choice and to introduce their presentation goals. In the undergraduate course I used it to make a case for their topic as well. This is what IGNITE does too. Just throwing out new innovative ideas. The format is not working well to explain things. 3. I order the slides how they come in. In some semesters the graduate students went into a contest not to be the last one. The entire presentation is just 5 minutes and it races by. I time the name slides with 3 seconds. That allows students to get up and collect themselves. 4. The first round often is a major failure because some students get simply cut off when their slide moves forward or stand around for several seconds waiting for the next slide because they didn't prepare sufficiently. The next class they are better prepared. Learning comes from failure here. We talk about their topics afterwards though and how memorable their presentation was. For the slides the only instruction I give is: No bullet points 5. I'm not grading those. The public presentation puts usually enough pressure on. They learn from each other and have fun with it. Hope this will help!