Why not trying a quickie?
Updated: Sep 29, 2022
Quickies are underestimated, in my opinion. I’ve tried them a couple of times and it was really cool. Ways better than people would think. I really enjoyed each time!
Of course I am talking about quick presentations, lightning talks. What else? :P
Without really intending to, I believe I am becoming an ignite speaker. Because I’ve managed to present 3 times in that format in the past months and I’ve discovered I like it a lot. Here are the three main reasons why:
It forces me to stay concise and say more with less: which is not a piece of cake. It’s a real challenge and of course it depends on the topic choice. Although I do believe that any topic can be well presented in 5 minutes, it is true that some are more difficult than others to compact like that. Even bigger is the challenge to put up an interesting presentation with such a time constraint. But I gladly take that challenge because it trains my ability of cutting the crap and going straight to the point.
It’s easier to rehearse until the talk is completely dominated: for the simple reason that it takes only 5 min. I’ve given 30-min talks before and I could practice only a couple of times, with lots of effort to find the moment for it. And something that gives me a lot of self-confidence when performing on stage is having practiced my speech enough so I feel totally comfortable with it. With this I don’t mean memorizing every word, of course, that’s a very wrong thing to do. I mean feeling confident that I know the speech structure well and the key points of the presentation, with the main message I want to deliver.
When recorded, the talk is more likely to be watched when shared: because it’s easier for people to find 5 minutes time to watch, while going in the bus or underground on the way to work for example. Hence, there are higher chances to reach out to more people and maybe get some/more feedback. Which is always good!
Since I kind of enjoy getting on stage to tell people stories, I follow quite some number of tech conferences on twitter to keep an eye on speaking opportunities. On the other hand, since I discovered that I like quick presentations, I couldn’t help noticing that only a minority of events offer this format. And when a conference offers it, the number of slots is incredibly small in comparison to normal-length talks. Take a look at these two examples:
Those images were published in twitter by each conference respectively. By the time I am writing this post, the CfP for the Belgium edition was already closed, so the numbers on the image are final. But the CfP for the Morocco edition is still open for a week. In any case, it’s easy to see how underrepresented the quickies are.
Of course not every event is suitable for quick formats, mostly due to the target audience. Personally I like a good mixture of presentation formats in a conference, because I think it makes it more interesting. I just would like that the available slots for quick formats were more. I believe it would also stimulate more speakers who never did it before to dare and try it out, which in turn would make the formats more popular and hopefully more enjoyable/demanded by the audiences.
Speakers don’t seem to like quickies much…
I suspected it before, but I definitely confirmed it when I volunteered as a reviewer for the last CfP of the DevOpsDays London. When I read their tweet asking for volunteers I decided to give it a try, so I could get a first-hand impression of the submissions of such a successful community conference, to better estimate my future chances should I decide to submit something next year (this year I couldn’t). They have a really cool and exemplary anonymising process for their proposals reviews, by the way.
The DevOpsDays conferences have the particularity that (usually) the number of available speaking slots for 30-min talks and ignite talks are the same. This is something I haven’t seen in any other tech conference so far. And I like it!
But, for the DevOpsDays London for example there were around 120 submissions for full length talks and only around 13 for ignites. So, speakers don’t seem to like ignites much, uh?
That’s a shame, in my opinion.
Speakers out there, why not trying a quickie? Come on, you might like it! :-)