So it seems there is a new conference presentation format that is making the rounds, a truncation of the classic 15-20 minutes conference talk: the 5-minute lightning talk! Instead of padding 3-4 presenters on a panel for extended discussion of their ideas, the 5-minute lightning talk enables, let's say, 15 people to drop rapid-fire knowledge bombs. It's academia on speed, or, as Academic Coach Taylor recently tweeted: "the academic version of a headshot". You need to look like you got it going on, because the form, I'd argue, is as suggestive as the content.
This means that the lightning talk is, essentially, an entirely different genre. This weekend, I attended Now! Visual Culture, the biennial conference of the the International Association of Visual Culture, and Thursday night opened with a gattling gun of talks from a rather luminous group of sharp shooters. Some excelled at this speed-form, while others remained too trained in the traditional presentation modes of the long-talk to really embrace the form. Like most things, it simply seems that practice and re-framing are key.
So thinking about how alien this format might seem at first try, I determined to put together a running list of tips and observations, mostly for myself, but for anyone else who comes along:
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