Lightning Talk FAQs

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Presenter Checklist (Make a copy or download these important key dates!)

Online Presenter Toolkit

EDU23 PowerPoint Template for Download


Lightning Talks give presenters the opportunity to share the highlights or core ideas of a topic in a fast-paced and lively (virtual) environment. These sessions are informal and interactive. Presenters have a total of 35 minutes allotted. They will present their short talk three times within that time period. Each talk is 10 minutes and is structured so that the presentation is for approximately 5 - 6 minutes and then there is approximately 5 minutes for Q&A and to interact with attendees. The presentation is then repeated.

There will be several “talks” running concurrently and attendees will have the opportunity to go from talk to talk as they wish. We suggest you outline key talking points and be prepared to “go with the flow” as attendees hear about your topic and ask questions. These are informal, interactive sessions held in the Lightning Lounge (see visuals here) and attendees will have the option to be on camera and engage in discussion with you and fellow attendees.

A wide range of appropriate topics can be covered in a Lightning Talk, such as demonstrating the effect of a new tool or process at their institution or program, or the project itself. For Lightning Talks, plan to screen share 1 – 2 slides at most. These should just be talking points as the session will be very “go with the flow.”

Session Materials

Yes, EDUCAUSE has prepared a PowerPoint template for your convenience. As a reminder: for Lightning Talks, you will only need to prepare 1 - 2 slides which can include your talking points and visuals.

Due to the nature of the Lightning Talk, we are not able to post your resources in the Lightning Lounge for attendees to view before, during and after your session. You can, however, post links to resources during the session in the chat. We suggest creating a list of chat prompts and include key resources you would like to provide.

Your Lightning Talk

This is a tough question to answer depends. It depends on your presenting skills and comfort level with the content. A good rule of thumb, though, is that for every hour you spend presenting, you want to spend 10x that preparing. Preparation is the single most important part of making a successful presentation!

Don’t skip any of the preparation steps:

  • Strategy and Logistics: Know who you are speaking to, why you are speaking, so you can figure out what you are going to present.
  • Brainstorm and Outline Your Presentation: You will want to map out your entire session using a session outline template such as this one. This is where you list out how many minutes you have to speak, then write a short script for each section, and who is presenting which sections. Add in items such as engagement activities, special notes about AV, slide transitions, videos, etc. This outline or script is essentially a game plan for your session.
  • Practice: Your practice sessions should be 50% of your preparation time and should begin well in advance of the event. We can’t emphasize this enough: The more you practice, the more comfortable and confident you will be! Do several dry runs of your presentation. The success of your presentation depends on it! Tip: Time your presentation from start to finish!
  • Create Your Slides/Visuals: Keep it simple and visually interesting.
  • Presentation: Good luck! All your preparation will pay off!
  • Debrief: What went well, what didn’t. How can I/we improve for next time?

Yes! The Online Presenter Toolkit and the Presenter Concierge section of our website. There, you'll find articles, videos and resources for you, including slide design how-to’s, tips on delivering an outstanding presentation, engagement strategies, accessibility and more. Take the time to develop your presentation skills to create and deliver a presentation that is memorable and impactful.Here are a couple of our favorite resources:

EDUCAUSE has a dedicated staff person whose primary role is to support presenters. The speaker liaison provides ongoing communication leading up to the event, answers questions and can provide extra assistance through Speaker Support Sessions if needed. We currently offer training through pre-event meetings and the EDUCAUSE Presenter Support Modules. These five-minute (or less) videos will help you create an outstanding presentation by focusing on the practices adopted by the most effective speakers, presenters, and facilitators. The content also includes machine-readable PDF versions.

  • Presentation Best Practices Introduction (3:10)
  • How to Use Presentation Time Effectively (4:10)
  • Using Visuals (4:13)
  • Presentation Content and Detail (4:19)
  • Audience Interaction (4:22)
  • Panels (3:38)
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (3:19)