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Mind Obesity, Ike & Tina and Bacon: a Recap of Ignite Dallas

The idea is pretty simple: get a crowd of people together drinking beer at a cool place and listen to people quickly talk about stuff they know and like to talk about. That’s the basic idea of Ignite events, a phenomenon that started in Seattle in 2006 and has since spread all over the world, topping 65 different locations this week alone. I had the chance to witness the very first Ignite Dallas event on Wednesday night, and I’ve told pretty much everyone I’ve seen since about it. I liked it that much.

Ignite has a simple premise: speakers can talk on any topic for five minutes using 20 slides that transition every 15 seconds. The end product is a lively and info-packed melting pot that, at least in Dallas, is a fine casserole of social media rants, cause-related pleas and random how-tos. All with a twist of bacon to end the night. As I re-read that last line, I’m convinced it doesn’t make sense. And yet, it somehow did at Ignite Dallas. And I think that’s the point. Show up, grab a beer and reap the rewards of hearing lots of people talk about their passion.

What I was generally surprised about was how much I loved something about every single speaker. The organizers admitted to possibly over-controlling this first Dallas event, but it paid off. With that said, the real highlights for me were ….

Shyam Patel, who kicked the night off with a rant on Mind Obesity. He took the idea of information overload and kicked up a minimum of seven notches. More impressive, though, was his flawless execution and flow from the stage.

Jasmin Brand managed to turn Ike and Tina Turner into a superb analogy of the relationship between social media and education. A stretch? Not at all. It’s one visual that will never escape my brain.

Mike Orren somehow took his experiences in taking an improv class and flipped it into solid advice for business. Or life, for that matter. He explained how the “Yes, and ….” approach always trumps the “No, but….” Approach.

Mike D. Merrill stuck a fork in the evening with his ode to bacon. It was actually quite compelling; the #ignitedallas Twitter stream proved the next morning that bacon sales in Dallas must’ve grown by at least 10%.

The event was held at the Granada Theater on lower Greenville Ave., which is almost always a can’t-go-wrong venue. Unfortunately, the only glitch of the night was that the sound guy couldn’t seem to find a microphone that worked. As static echoed throughout talks at random points throughout the night, I couldn’t help but wonder how the Granada can handle acts like Keb ‘Mo a week earlier with no troubles and yet struggled with a single mic event like Ignite.

But, it really didn’t matter, because they completely made up for it in providing the perfect vibe for this inaugural event. People really were having no problem at all talking to strangers. And the support for every speaker was amazing. Though the word “community” is completely overused these days, that’s truly what it felt like at Ignite.

I had heard of Ignite events before, so I had an idea of how cool they could be. But my expectations did not serve the real thing any justice. I’m now a permanent evangelist of Ignite events, and can’t wait until the next Ignite Dallas on June 2. Whether it’s a date night, a girls night out or even if you’re flying solo, you can’t go wrong with this event. It’s too fun and too different an experience to mess up.

Brett Duncan posts his thoughts on marketing and communications regularly at MarketingInProgress.com. He also spoke at Ignite Dallas on the topic of Moving the Box. Email him at brett(at)marketinginprogress(dot)com, and follow him on Twitter (@bdunc1)