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Lightning Talk Suggestions

Tue, 09 Dec 2014

For the Chennaipy December meetup, we decided to do a series of 10-min Lightning Talks. But most people I spoke to, were wondering — what can you say in 10 min, how do I compress my 40 min talk into 10 min, … So here are a few suggestions for what to do and what not to do.


Most talks that we do during the meetups are tutorial type talks — "Getting Started with X" or "Intro. to Y". But with lightning talks this might not be the most appropriate talk type. One of the reasons is that, 10 min might not be sufficient to discuss the topic. Especially with varying levels of audience, the speaker has to provide sufficient background on the subject before discussing the topic at hand.

Wow Effect

One type of lightning talk that are preferable, are the ones that look like a magic trick. You show something that will WOW the audience and they will go back home and try it out. For example, if you want to talk about Generators, instead of talking about it, your slides should show two programs one using generators and another without, and should provide the stats on the memory usage. And then you provide a link to a nice article on Generators. Now people will be more motivated to follow the link and learn about Generators, on their own.

Instead of trying to teach the audience in 10min, you motivate them in 10min, and provide a link to a nice article. And they will be learning things on their own.

Needle in a Haystack

If you are new to Python or you are new to giving talks at meetups, you can try one of the talks suggested below. Both newbies and advanced users, in the audience will find it useful.

One of the problems today with the Internet is that, there is huge amount of information around and finding the good stuff is hard. This problem has been partly solved by things like "Stars" in GitHub and social bookmarking. Any help with this will be appreciated by the audience. So here are some ideas:

  1. Look at your "Star" list on GitHub, select 5 Python projects and tell us why you liked them.

  2. Look at your bookmarks for StackOverflow questions, select 5 questions related to Python and give us a short intro to each.

  3. An Active State Python recipe that you found interesting.

  4. A well written Python project, that you came across, that you would like to recommend to other newbies.

Call for Help and Support

If you have started an open source Python project or you are contributing to an existing open source project, and you are looking for other developers to join you, you can talk about your project and why you think it is important. And you can inspire others to join you.

What I Built at Work

Often times at work, we build tools and utilities to fix or workaround issues that we face. These might be just throw away scripts, or the scripts might not be generic enough to be published. But they could contain sufficient hack value, and might be interesting to the audience. You might want to consider talking about them. Who knows, it could trigger people to spin-off a more complete and generic version of the script.

Hope this article has shed light on how one can do short 10-min talks. Hope to see more people coming forward to do lightning talks.

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