Ride the Lightning! Flash talks are coming to WCSLC

I’ve teased it for the last couple weeks but we’re officially announcing it today, WordCamp Salt Lake City will have lightning talks!

For those of you who don’t know what a lightning talk is, or need a refresher, lightning talks (or flash talks) are short presentations that are usually only a couple minutes long and typically cover one specific idea or topic. In a WordPress context, it might be this cool plugin you discovered (or wrote!) that you want to show off. Or it might be a story about that one time your site was hacked and how you dealt with it.

There are different flavors of lightning talks as well, including Ignite Talks, which are strictly defined as 5 minutes and 20 slides long, with the slides automatically advancing every 15 seconds.

What I like about lightning talks is that they can be very laid back and casual — much more so than a traditional presentation. They can use slides, or not, and can be used as an opportunity to demo something really quickly, like how NPM works and what it does. One pro-tip I learned about lightning talks is to put very little text on your slides — or none at all! You don’t have enough time to read it, and your audience will be trying to listen to you speak while reading the slide which means they’ll end up retaining less information.

How it works

Now that you know what lightning talks are, let’s talk about how they are going to work at WordCamp SLC.

  1. Lightning talks will be no more than 5 minutes long. They will be timed and you will get kicked off the stage if you go over.
  2. There will be no time for questions, so be sure to include your Twitter handle or email in your presentation so people can ask you questions later.
  3. There will be two rounds of 3 lightning talks with a 5 minute break between them for a total of 6 lightning talks.
  4. Talks can be on any subject but will be loosely grouped into “general WordPress stuff”, “WordPress development” and “business”.
  5. The submission deadline for lightning talks is August 13.
  6. All lightning talk speakers will receive the same benefits as other WordCamp speakers, namely free admission and an invitation to the speaker dinner on September 22nd.

If you didn’t get a chance to submit a talk, or your talk wasn’t accepted, here’s your chance to still take the stage and present your idea. It’s especially great for people who are new to public speaking and want to dip their toes in the water without having to prepare a full-length talk. We’ll especially be looking for lightning talks that are:

  • original or presented in a unique way
  • fit into one of the three general “categories” of general/userdevelopment, and business/entrepreneur
  • can easily be presented within the time limit
  • present a new idea, technology or trend that is emerging in your realm of expertise
  • by speakers who haven’t presented before at WordCamp Salt Lake City
  • by speakers who are part of an underrepresented or marginalized group (people of color, LGBTQ, refugees, Joomla! users, etc.)
  • fun!

Submit your lightning talk!


Still feeling nervous? Check out these resources for more information and some ideas about the format. And don’t worry! Lightning talks are fun and casual and low pressure (even if the time limit seems like a lot of pressure). If in doubt, submit your idea!