Rachel Levitt ’12 M.B.A. was one of the featured speakers at Ignite Minneapolis 7. Ignite is a high-energy evening of 5-minute talks by people who have a burning idea—and the guts to get onstage and share it with their hometown crowd. All talks are 5 minutes (20 slides x 15 seconds/slide). Watch Rachel’s talk, “A Jew’s FAQ’s, starting at 2:00:00. We asked Rachel to share the process of speaking at Ignite.

I came up with my Ignite topic after taking an “Intro to Judaism” class at my temple. You see, I married a non-Jew last fall, but we intend to raise our kids Jewish, so the rabbi who married us recommended we take the class (for him, to get more familiar with my culture and traditions; for me, as moral support and for a refresher).

So that subject was very top of mind when I saw the call for speakers from Ignite’s Twitter account. I’d never been to an Ignite event before, but it seemed fun, so I sent in an application describing my talk as “Questions I frequently get asked as a Jew among non-Jews.” And that’s how my talk, “A Jew’s FAQs,” was born.

I relied a lot on my training from my UST Verbal Lab classes to prepare for the talk. The Ignite format was quite different, though, which forced me to throw some of the fundamentals out the window. No pausing for effect, no making eye contact: There just isn’t time!

But I did take to heart what I learned from that class about the audience and how they are with you all the way, pulling for you to succeed as a speaker. I felt that when I was up on stage, and that allowed me to feel more comfortable, even though I was up in front of way more people than in my Links presentation.

I am very proud to have taken my training in the UST MBA program and applied it to something fun and different. I got a lot of compliments about my speaking, and my slide deck, after my presentation. It was exhilarating to speak in front of such a receptive crowd, and a true pleasure to entertain and inform people with a subject about which I am passionate. I would absolutely speak at Ignite again if I could come up with an equally good topic. But I will at least be attending the next one as an audience member!

Evening UST MBA Student Julie Warner also spoke at Ignite and shared her thoughts on the experience here on Opus Magnum.