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ABA TechShow

My First Trip to Chicago

I had the pleasure of spending three days in Chicago last week for the American Bar Association TechShow. It was a geek-tastic time. I met a lot of wonderful people and learned a lot about ways law firms can use technology to be more efficient. Our keynote speaker was the awesome Ben Stein. It was weird to hear him speak with inflection in his voice. I also got to present on flash mob law during the Ignite-style kick-off event LexThink.1. The audience really seemed to enjoy it.

This was also my first real trip to Chicago. The conference didn’t give me much free time. I only had one evening and one afternoon to get in all my sightseeing. Chicago is known for having wonderful museums and an aquarium, but I skipped those. I am someone who can appreciate art, but I need a guide to tell me why things are significant or else it will be lost on me. Without a guide, I can walk through a museum in 10 minutes and wonder why I spent $20 for the experience. When I’m traveling alone, I prefer to use Roadside America to find a city’s quirky gems.

On the second night of the conference I decided I wanted to experience some Chicago flavor. I asked the doorman where I should go for real Chicago pizza. Without hesitation he said, “Lou Malnati’s.” It was a delightful little pizza place with wonderful deep dish Chicago-style pizza. I grew up on the west coast, so this was the first time I had to eat pizza with a fork and knife. If you want Chicago pizza, try this place.

After the conference was over, I had a few hours to take in the city with my cousin who lives in Chicago. He’s in a medical residency, so he doesn’t have time to see the city. He said there’s a wonderful architectural boat tour and a gangster bus tour in the city that he’d love to go on. Unfortunately our schedule didn’t allow for that so we took our own walking tour near the lake.

Our first stop was Millennium Park. I had to see Cloud Gate – aka “The Bean.” Despite it being a freezing cold day, there were a lot of people out to see the giant sculpture. Being an ex-gymnast, I had to do a handstand in front of it.

Our walk around Chicago also featured the Chicago Cultural Center, the Navy Pier, and the beginning of Route 66. I was tickled when I randomly encountered the statue of Bob Newhart and his couch. After I explained to my cousin who Bob Newhart was, I posed for a picture. It was odd to sit on a couch that was rock hard and ice cold. There was also a giant statue of Marilyn Monroe in her signature pose from The Seven Year Itch. We giggled when we walked around it and saw that the sculpture included an accurate depiction of her backside and panties. We also walked around Tribune Tower which has pieces of other buildings embedded in the outside like the Parthenon, the Taj Majal, the World Trade Center, The Alamo, and the Great Wall of China. I was little bummed when I didn’t find a piece of Stonehenge but I was happy to see that it had a piece from Antarctica.

It would have been nice to visit Willis Tower (formerly known as Sears Tower). They have a glass observation deck that sticks out over the street on the 103rd floor. It would have been fun to do a handstand on that, but it was cloudy day and kind of expensive. Instead, my last adventure in Chicago was a ride back to the airport on the L.

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Top 10 Tips for LexThink.1 from Ignite Phoenix


Stephanie Horn at Ignite Phoenix #7 by MoLo_trash

Ignite Phoenix is one of the best events I’ve ever participated in. Each Ignite features a series of presenters and each one has 5 minutes and 20 PowerPoint slides that advance every 15 seconds to share one of their passions. LexThink.1 is based on Ignite, except each presenter gets 6 minutes and 20 slides that advance every 18 seconds.

I’ve been involved with Ignite Phoenix for over two years, and it’s been one of the best experiences of my life. I had the pleasure of speaking at Ignite Phoenix #5, and I’ve volunteered at eight other Ignite Phoenix events. My usual volunteer role is assistant stage managing. I help wrangle and orient the presenters before the show and make sure the presenters are on the stage at the right time with the right microphone attached to their body.

Here are my top 10 tips for presenting in an Ignite-style format.

1.  Wear Clothes that Accommodate the Microphone: Wear an outfit that has a structured shirt that can handle having a microphone clipped to it. Wear pants or a skirt so there’s a waistband or back pockets to attach the transmitter to. At one Ignite event, we had a presenter wear a dress. I had to go up the back of her dress and clip the transmitter to her bra.

2.  Limit your Message: When you’re watching the clock, 18 seconds seems like a long time, but it’s not when you’re speaking. I recently watched one of my favorite Ignite Phoenix presentations. On average, he said 3-4 sentences per slide. Don’t try to say more than that.

3.  Use Awesome Pictures: Your voice provides the words of your message. Your slides should enhance it, not simply repeat it. Choose interesting photos that embody the message or emotion behind your verbal message. Don’t use bulleted lists and avoid superfluous words. Seth Godin recommends using 6 words or less on each slide.

4.  Have Permission to use every Image: Make sure you own or have permission to use every image in your presentation. Select images that have Creative Commons licenses that allow you commercialize and modify the original work.

5.  Allow Time for Laughter when you have Hilarious Pictures, Stories, or Ideas.

6.  Memorize your Presentation: You don’t have to memorize your presentation word-for-word, but you should not need notes on stage. Your slides should be a sufficient guide. One of the worst Ignite presentations I ever saw was one where the presenter read his entire presentation off his phone.

7.  Practice, Practice, Practice:  You cannot practice your presentation enough. Go through it multiple times per day, out loud, with the slides set to advance every 18 seconds. There is no other way to get comfortable presenting in the Ignite format.

8.  Turn Off your Phone: You don’t want your phone to ring during your presentation. You don’t even want you phone in your back pocket set on vibrate because you may have friends who are evil enough to call you while you’re presenting just to see the look on your face when your butt starts vibrating.

9.  Have Fun: Ignite Phoenix has one of the best audiences to present in front of. They are so supportive and excited for each presenter. I hope the LexThink.1 audience is the same.

10.  I purposely left tip #10 blank. Dozens of people have graced the Ignite Phoenix, Ignite Phoenix After Hours, and Ignite Food stage. If you have presented at any Ignite event, in Phoenix or elsewhere, please leave a comment with what you think the tenth tip should be.

I’m very excited to present at LexThink.1. See you in Chicago!

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