How to prepare your Lightning Talk – the alumni speak.

So, apparently I have to write a blog post today which doesn’t mention royalty or babies, despite every other media outlet in the United Kingdom being awash with nannies, nappies and nurseries.

So let’s talk about Lightning Talks, shall we? The gestation of a Lightning Talk is relatively short, at only 12 weeks, and although the delivery is far from painless, at 7 minutes and 3o seconds at least it is over and done with quickly. No sooner have you finished than the worst of it is all forgotten as your bundle of personal pride is passed to you, warm and squawking.

If you have decided to take a shot at Lightning Talk greatness, the submission process is at the end of this blog post here. If you’re still dithering, here is some advice from the horse’s mouth: the Lightning Talk alumni. But be quick to act on it: the deadline for submissions is 7th August.

Lightning Talk alumni have been generous with their advice and support for anyone considering entering the process this year. Here’s some of the points that were frequently raised:

  • Treat your submission video seriously. ‘I filmed about a dozen takes of me trying to say it.  The submission itself is work and you should set aside a few hours to do it.’ Tim Cull.
  • Practice, practice, practice – should go without saying, really. ‘Practice helps, but that’s table stakes. Everyone expects you to have practiced.’ Des Traynor.
  • Don’t get clever with powerpoint – ‘Your slides are context not content’. Joe Corkery.
  • Get feedback – ‘you also need to have the support of a friend who will give you candid feedback and support (I would be happy to be that person for any BoSer, BTW, just give me a shout).’ Jody Burgess.
  • Prepare for disaster and be OK with it. ‘If you watch the video of my talk, there’s a point in the first third where I’m just standing there like a dummy saying nothing in front of a room full of 300 people.  It lasts for about fifteen agonizing seconds’. Tim Cull

Was it worth it? (The Lightning Talk, not the baby)

  • ‘It was a great experience and  a serious confidence booster.’ Jody Burgess
  • ‘I got a lot out of the process, way more than just my linkedin profile picture!  I got to meet a great group of Lightning Talkers, many of whom I’ve stayed in contact and discussed projects with.  It was a great icebreaker to chat with other attendees and presenters’ Gregory Menvielle
  • ‘First and foremost, giving a lightning talk is awesome and totally worth the effort’ Tim Cull
  • ‘I gave a Lightning Talk at the 2010 conference and for me it was one of the absolute highlights of the conference.’ Joe Corkery
  • ‘If you’re considering attending BoS, I strongly recommend you apply to give a lightning talk. I wasn’t sure I could do it well, and I’m still not sure I did, but it was a great experience. Give it a try.’ Des Traynor

If you want more top tips on preparing your Lightning Talk, then I particularly recommend these blogs as a bottomless pit of information and inspiration (plus they made me laugh):

Des Traynor: Talk: They’re all just perspectives

Tim Cull: How to be a Lightning Talk speaker

Jo Corkery: Preparing for a Lightning Talk

Go on, give it a go! What’s the worst that can happen in 7 minutes and 30 seconds. You can find the submission process at the end of this blog post here, and the deadline for submissions is 7th August

What you should do next...

At BoS we run events and publish content that is highly valued by anyone trying to build, run, and scale a great software company.

You should sign up to our no-spam, no-frills newsletter to get early access to exclusive new talks and events:

Upcoming events you shouldn't miss...

30th June
Hangout: Creating Software Ecosystems (free attendance)

21st & 28th July
Masterclass: Demand-Side Sales using JTBD with Bob Moesta

One response to “How to prepare your Lightning Talk – the alumni speak.”

  1. Mark Stephens says:

    I wrote some ideas based on my 2009 talk at http://blog.idrsolutions.com/2011/06/3-things-to-remember-about-the-business-of-software-lightning-talks/

    I think the most important thing it to get the title right. If you get the perfect title, the rest falls into place.