Event Info :: Lightning Talks

Throughout most of the day we’ll be running short informal 5 minute “lightning talks” (Wikipedia) at 10 minute intervals (i.e. 6 different talks per hour).

So, who’ll be giving these talks? You will, of course! We’d like to give everyone the chance to strut their funky stuff and share something with the other attendees 🙂

We’ll publicise the talks in advance and on the day, so you can choose which ones you think might be interested in going to.

What will the talks be about?

The talks can be about anything (although ideally something that’s relevant to the event and/or the attendees!) and the only rule is that you should aim to speak for about 5 minutes or less. We’ll have a PC running PowerPoint and a flipchart, so you can illustrate your talk with a few slides or maybe draw a diagram.

Because you’ve only got a few minutes, you should aim to talk about just a single thing, subject or topic. Here are some ideas…

  • Is there a project you’d like to develop during the day? Maybe you’ve got a great idea and need a techie to write some code, or maybe you’re a techie with an idea and you want to get some librarians to critique it?
  • Has your library done something cool/interesting/unique? This a chance to show off and share the love!
  • Do you have a favourite web site, software tool or web based service? We’d like to give you the chance to explain why you like it so much and encourage others to use it.
  • Maybe you’ve always thought a library service could be improved, but you’re not sure what the solution is? There’ll be a room full of people at Mashed Library with good ideas.
  • Do you have an unusual hobby or talent? Why not show it off!
  • Have you recently refurbished or revamped your library? Take some photos, paste them into a PowerPoint and give a slideshow presentation.
  • You’d like an opportunity to get your soap box out and rant about something!

You should ensure you don’t talk for more than 6 minutes, as the next speaker might need a couple of minutes to prepare for their talk. In fact, there’ll be someone there (possibly armed with a shepherd’s crook) keeping an eye on the clock and they’ll ask you to stop speaking if you’re not finished in time. If anyone wants to ask you questions after your talk, then we’ll try and find you some space where you can chat.

If you’re watching an interesting talk, try to resist the temptation to ask questions until after the speaker has finished. The exception is if the speaker is giving an interactive talk or wants to spark a short debate around a topic. Again, don’t forget that the clock will be ticking!

But I’ve never given a presentation before!!!

No problem! That’s the great thing about lightning talks — you only have to talk for a few minutes (so you don’t need to do a lot of preparation) and it’ll take place in a very informal setting with just a small number of people (so no-one will care if you make a mistake) 🙂

What can I do in just 5 minutes?

The short answer is… “not very much”! Just stick to one subject, topic or idea.

Imagine you were talking informally to someone but you’d only got a couple of minutes before they had to be somewhere else — think about what the most important bits of information you need to get across would be. Could you boil it all down to just 2 or 3 bullet points? Once you’ve done that, build the talk around that by adding a quick introduction to the start and a summary at the end.

OK I’d like to give a talk, what next?

As part of the registration process, we’ll ask you if there’s anything you’d like to give a lightning talk on. Also, during the event, we’ll be keeping an eye out for people and groups who are doing something interesting and invite them to give a quick talk.

If you want to use the PC & projector during your lightning talk, then please make sure that you can get set up quickly. Bring any PowerPoint slides on a USB stick. Unless it’s 100% necessary for your talk, please use our PC rather than try to plug your laptop into the projector. If you want to demo a web site, make sure you know the URL and any login details. The PC will be running a recent version of PowerPoint (either 2003 or 2007) and Acrobat Reader, along with recent versions of Internet Explorer and Firefox.

Do I have to watch all of the lightning talks?

Of course not! We’ll get some talks timetabled before the event and you can check to see if any of them might be of interest to you, and we’ll promote the rest of them on the day. All you need to do is make a (mental?) note of which you want to see. Before each talk, someone will shout out the name of the talk and the presenter (a megaphone — ideally a Rapmaster 2000 — is on our “wish list” of items for the event!)

The standard unconference “law of two feet” will be in force throughout the event…

The Law of Two Feet

If at any time you find yourself in any situation where you are neither learning nor contributing, use your two feet and move to some place more to you liking. Such a place might be another group, or even outside into the sunshine. No matter what, don’t sit there feeling miserable.

…so, if a lightning talk isn’t floating your boat, you should simply walk away and find something more interesting to do! 🙂


~ by Dave Pattern on 22/April/2009.

3 Responses to “Event Info :: Lightning Talks”

  1. Like the idea of lightning talks…I wonder if there is any scope for this in teaching library stuff!? Just to make things a little more exciting.

  2. It’d be interesting to know if anyone’s tried that!

    I think the closest thing that I’ve heard of (and unfortunately I can’t remember which US library does it) is that the reference desk staff will organise quick sessions at short notice if they get several related queries.

    For example, if they get a run of students asking how to use the catalogue, they’ll organise an impromptu and informal catalogue overview session. From memory, they run the sessions in the library foyer (with a projector displaying on a wall), so that anyone who’s passing by can join in and watch, ask questions, etc.

    The general idea was that it would/could be more effective than saying the same thing over and over again to students individually and that those types of queries tend to come in waves. So, I guess it would be like doing short induction sessions at the drop of a hat (which is probably good practise for staff!)

  3. That does sound interesting, would love to try that but not quite sure about the practicalities or the mechanics as it were. Could end up with “Speaker’s corner” in our Learning Zone, if you see what I mean….or do I mean “Lightning corner”?

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