What is a lightning talk?

Ben Lidgey
2 min readJul 16, 2018

Brief history

A lightning talk is a very short presentation lasting only a few minutes. Typically the slides will auto-advance after a set number of seconds. There are different formats of lightning talk that vary things like the number of slides and the time per slide, including PechaKucha and Ignite.

“An exuberating look at purple lightning shooting down from a cloud into the city of Twin Peaks” by Emil Jarfelt on Unsplash


Lightning talks allow a quick overview of a topic. It gives the audience a view of the topic without too much detail. That way if someone is interested they know who to follow up with. If someone is not interested in the topic they don;t have to wait long for it to be over!

Because of the short presentation time a number of different topics can be covered in a short time, allowing a wide range to be covered quickly.

Using lighting talk techniques in other presentations can be useful — focussing on one point per slide, with the use of graphics can help to keep the audience attention.


  1. One point per slide — there are not many slides, and not much time per slide, so focus on making one point per slide
  2. Use images — 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text
  3. Go slow and steady and reduce the amount you say rather than rushing to try and cram more in. Talk slowly, it is tempting to rush if the slides are auto advancing, but with one point per slide there is no need to rush.
  4. If images are not appropriate consider using 1 or 2 words only (Takahashi method)
  5. The slides will auto advance
  6. Practice the point per slide, you won’t have time to rummage through notes
  7. Keep calm and carry on — If a slide does not go according to plan, for example you forget the point or are running behind, carry on regardless

Above all, have fun. The audience are on your side.



Ben Lidgey

I have always made things. Now I help others to make things by helping them to improve their Agile and DevOps practices, while always enjoying life to the max.