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Lightning Talks

Lightning talks are 5-minute presentations from the audience on a common theme. The intention is to give everyone a voice and tap into the wisdom of the crowd.

 

Make it light-hearted and fun to encourage everyone to take part. Especially those who normally aren’t public speakers.

Preparation  |  Room Setup  |  Facilitation Process  |  Post-Event Mailout

 

Preparation

Email all attendees at least a week before asking for volunteers to give a 5-minute talk on the theme of the meetup. Depending on the length of the meetup, you need to fill between 6 and 15 lightning talk slots. I recommend you keep some empty slots for people to put their names down on the night. Depending on how extroverted the community is, you could keep over half free.

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Hi, 

Our next meetup will be on the theme of XYZ. We’ll be using a lightning talk format to hear as many stories and experiences from our community as possible. 

Are you able to give a short, 5-minute, talk on this topic. It could be on your personal experiences (either the best or worst experience), how you do it, the latest idea you’ve heard, etc. It is a very broad topic. We don’t need slides (but you’re welcome to use them if you like) - your story is what is most important.

Please let me know. We need 10 volunteers to share 5-minute stories. 

Kind Regards

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Room Setup

Setup chairs in auditorium seating (rows) towards the “stage”. If there is a projector, make sure the screen is behind the “stage” and speaker. Near the entrance of the room should be a whiteboard or flipchart with the list of speakers for the night. There should be a few empty slots to allow people to submit stories on the night.

Setup a timer in a place that is visible and loud so everyone can hear when it goes off. It can be as simple as a laptop or tablet on a chair in the first row showing Google Timer.

Facilitation Process

Start by introducing the theme and the lightning talk process. Emphasise that this is a safe place and we encourage everyone to talk. That this is a good opportunity to practice public speaking as well as learn more about the topic. Explain that there is a strict 5-minute limit for each talk and that when the timer goes off they have to finish – even if it’s mid sentence.Call the first speaker to the stage and set the timer.

After 5 minutes, thank the speaker. If they need 5-10 seconds extra, that is fine. Beyond that, if the speaker is still talking, start applauding to encourage them to stop. Remind people that there are still open slots to speak on the whiteboard. Then invite the second speaker to the stage and set the timer.

Repeat…

Post-Event Mailout

Send an email to everyone thanking them for joining. Send out any slides or videos from the event if relevant. Remember to invite them to join the Business Agility Institute.