What are Lightning Talks?
Lightning Talks are sixteen five-minute talks in a ninety-minute time slot (or eleven in a sixty-minute slot or 8 in 45 minutes). They have become popular at the Perl conferences in the last few years.
Why Would You Want to do a Lightning Talk?
Maybe you've never given a talk before, and you'd like to start small. For a Lightning Talk, you don't need to make slides, and if you do decide to make slides, you only need to make three.
Maybe you're nervous and you're afraid you'll mess up. It's a lot easier to plan and deliver a five minute talk than it is to deliver a long talk. And if you do mess up, at least the painful part will be over quickly.
Maybe you don't have much to say. Maybe you just want to ask a question, or invite people to help you with your project, or boast about something you did, or tell a short cautionary story. These things are all interesting and worth talking about, but there might not be enough to say about them to fill up thirty minutes.
Maybe you have a lot of things to say, and you're already going to give a long talk on one of them, and you don't want to hog the spotlight. There's nothing wrong with giving several Lightning Talks. Hey, they're only five minutes.
On the other side, people might want to come to a lightning talk when they wouldn't come to a long talk on the same subject. The risk for the attendees is smaller: If the talk turns out to be dull, or if the person giving the talk turns out to be a really bad speaker, well, at least it's over in five minutes. With lightning talks, you're never stuck in some boring lecture for forty-five minutes.
Still having trouble picking a topic, here are some suggestions:
- Why my favorite module is X.
- I want to do cool project X. Does anyone want to help?
- Successful Project: I did project X. It was a success. Here's how you could benefit.
- Failed Project: I did project X. It was a failure, and here's why.
- Heresy: People always say X, but they're wrong. Here's why.
- You All Suck: Here's what is wrong with the our community.
- Call to Action: Let's all do more of X / less of X.
- Wouldn't it be cool if X?
- Someone needs to do X.
- Wish List
- Why X was a mistake.
- Why X looks like a mistake, but isn't.
- What it's like to do X.
- Here's a useful technique that worked.
- Here's a technique I thought would be useful but didn't work.
- Why algorithm X sucks.
- Comparison of algorithms X and Y.
Of course, you could give the talk on anything you wanted, whether or not it is on this list. If we get a full schedule of nothing but five minutes of ranting and raving on each topic, a good time will still be had by most.