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Slideshows on Fire: Ignite Bend displays the power of Power Point 

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It's tough to get excited about Power Point presentations. Who would believe the software that your company's HR departments uses to outline the new personal day policy and your professor employs to bullet point the notable events of the Crimean War could possibly lend itself to anything even mildly entertaining?

Yet this conference room slideshow software is perhaps the key ingredient for the June 4th Ignite Bend event at the Tower Theatre. And unlike those HR presentations, the event should prove to be a big draw. Ignite events have been flourishing across the country for three years now and the concept landed in Bend in February when the first-ever Ignite Bend took place.

The concept is pretty simple: Each presenter has five minutes of stage time in which they present 20 different automatically rotating 15-second slides. Once the slideshow starts, it doesn't stop, regardless of the performance - which range from informative lectures to musical comedy routines to performance art. At the first Ignite Bend, there was a presentation on the correlations between poker and life, a defense of local Christians, a talk on the history of Legos and a song about getting laid off.

Brian Hinderberger performed that song, and the timing was pretty apt.

"My presentation was about being laid off. And the day I did my presentation I was laid off," says Hinderberger of his "Dirty Wicked Town" song.

A freelance graphic designer and proud father (as well as front man of local rock band Kousefly) Hinderberger says the Ignite format lends itself not only to an obviously diverse range of topics, but also to a bit of adrenaline rush, given the "once we start, we don't stop" ethos of the event.

"It's like a freight train. As soon as you're done with your presentation, a 15-second slide goes up and the next person has to get on stage," says Hinderberger.

Ignite is hardly unique to Bend, having started in Seattle in 2006 and since spread across the country. The Portland Ignite has grown to fill up the historic Bagdad Theater with more that 700 attendees and a seemingly endless list of entries. Other cities have seen even larger turnouts - all to see a night of Power Point presentations. And here in Bend the first Ignite was at the PoetHouse, but now the second installment is setting up in the Tower Theatre - a big jump, to say the least. There's also a democratic tinge to the event, online voters choose the lineup in the run-up to the event (vote at, so there's no "it's all who you know" sort of stuff at play.

So why have such a varied swath of people been drawn to both attend and/or present at these events? That's a tough one to nail down. The event is always free, so there's no profit-minded motive behind it, nor does it ignite aim to convey a single message. Some presenters, however, are clearly working to get their business or organization some publicity, or perhaps getting their name out there in a sort of onstage approach to networking. But others, still, seem more interested in merely getting on stage in front of his or her community.

"Maybe these are all extroverts and they want to get out there, or, on the other hand, maybe there are some people challenging themselves with this," Hinderberger guesses.

Ignite Bend 2
7pm, Thursday June 4. Tower Theatre, 835 NW Wall St. Visit to reserve your FREE ticket.

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