Lightning Talks

(related terms Speed Geeking, Ignite, Pecha Kucha)

If you had three minutes on stage in front of your colleagues what would you say? A lightning talk is a fast paced 3-minute talk on a topic of your choosing, followed by 2 minutes of questions. It is a more or less impromptu talk on any subject relevant to the conference. Your talk doesn’t need to be on a profound topic or a research project. It can be as simple as:

  • Here's a good preservation application that you might not know about.
  • Please give me feedback about this idea.
  • Here are some interesting things about our preservation program.
  • I have this provocative/outrageous opinion.
  • Charlie, Alice and I will debate the following point.


Monday, October 5, 2009: Time: 4:45 - 6:00


Robertson Auditorium, Rear


If you would like to do a Lightning Talk please add your name and topic to the flipchart that will be available near the registration desk at the conference. You can do more than one if you want, but if the slots fill up (there are only 15 them) you will have to choose which one you want to do.


The format is three minutes of talk (this limit will be strictly enforced---speakers will be cut off in mid-sentence if necessary) followed by two minutes of question-and-answer.


Speakers that wish to use slides must save their slides as PDF files and then they will be transferred to the presentation computer at the conference. Specific details will be available at the conference.

Why Would You Want to do a Lightning Talk?

[From Mark Jason Dominus page on lightning talks]

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 three 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 three minutes.

Victorian houses in San Francisco

San Francisco Convention & Visitors Bureau photo by Christine Krieg.

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