Why everyone should do a lightning talk

I’ve never been a very confident performer, something that often comes as a surprise as those who know me as a brash and cheerful business owner. A childhood of amateur dramatics and a career of technical talks has sorted most of that out, but I was totally unprepared for the pressure and exhilaration of the lightning talk I did last year at the Business of Software conference.

The format is simple: 15 slides, 7.5 minutes, and the slides advance every 30 seconds. So far not too tricky, until you start to read some of the lightning talks from previous years. I was delighted when my abstract was accepted, but I soon realized that in order to be able to stand shoulder to shoulder with the other speakers I had to brush up my pitch to be funny and thought provoking, and preferably both.

“Why are bald men under represented in senior management?”

I got the funny requirement down by picking a good title. However I then came unstuck immediately by not leaving time for laughs. I preferred that response to the eery silence of the lady’s loos when I was practising, but it still put me off my stride a little.

Ultimately I think it went very well, even if I did loose to Mr Flibble, but I can’t help feel something for those people applying to do it this year. I’m no longer nervous about speaking in public so I think that is the biggest recommendation. Good luck everyone!

Rosemary, CEO Ellexus