What do people think about lightning talks?

First things first, I love lightning talks. There is little time for excessive explanation, meaning there can be multiple ways to interpret the message. This means I get a lot of new ideas from lightning talks.

Test Bash have 99 second talks, I’ve also seen lightning talks that are longer - up to 15 minutes long. Sometimes there is time for Q and A, but I find this is rare. There are usually several lightning talks within the time slot, so I find it is easy to forget the previous talk as soon as the next talk starts.

I like to use lightning talks as a way to practice note taking. Only writing out the most important details, but writing enough to prompt my memory. The ability to take notes quickly, and only include the most important information, can be a difficult skill to develop. I then review these notes later on and see what new ideas can be generated from them.

One major benefit of lightning talks is that it is a great way to encourage more people to try speaking at conferences. My first conference talk was a lightning talk, at the online test conf. My chosen topic was Women in Testing. I enjoyed the experience so much that I chose to apply to speak at other conferences.

I’m interesting in hearing what other people think of lightning talks. What are the benefits for both speakers and listeners? What is the ideal time for a lightning talk?

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Hi Louise, I have to say I’m a fan of lightning talks too. They are a great way of getting over a key takeaway and when under 10 minutes, I personally think under 7 is best, they force you to stay on topic. I also advise people who want to get into speaking to start with a lightning talk. Its good practice and not too long. Then try to add two others on the same topic. Once they have 3 related ones they are happy with, they have the base of a conference talk!

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The TestBash 99-second format is ideal for developing some key public speaking skills, such as paring your text down to the essentials and testing your delivery against the clock. I have also always used the ability to print out speaking scripts in larger fonts to assist me when actually in front of an audience.

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I love lightning talks, although I’ve seen them done well and also done pants.
My first talk was a 99second talk at TestBash Brighton in April this year, and I’ve done some meetup talks since. It was a super great experience that helped a lot with my ability to talk in front of many humans about a topic I’m not the be-all-end-all expert on.
I’ve also been to some conferences with lightning talks that are just thinly veiled advertisements from sponsors though, even when advertising from sponsors was supposedly banned xD Those are pretty rubbish