#ESA100 meeting preview: lightning talks

The 100th ESA meeting is still 8 months away, but the call for abstracts went out last month. New this year: lightning talks.

Click the link for details, but the short version (ha!) is that lightning talks are 4 minute talks. You submit an abstract as for a regular talk, and the organizers group the lightning talks into topically-related groups of 4 (e.g., 4 population ecology lightning talks). After each group of 4 there’s a 10 minute question/discussion period. Each session comprises 3 of these groups, with the groups likely being on different topics. The lightning sessions will run in parallel with the other sessions during the day.

Ignite sessions are still happening too. I guess the lightning talks are an attempt to build on the popularity of the Ignite sessions. I also wonder if part of the motivation for lightning talks is to cram more talks into the meeting without making it longer or increasing the number of parallel sessions. Looks to me like lighting talks are to Ignite sessions more or less as regular talks are to symposia.

Note that lightning talks lack the formatting constraints on Ignite talks. In a lightning talk, you can have however many slides you want, and click through them however you want. I think that’s good. On balance, I think the strict formatting of Ignite talks is a bug rather than a feature. People mostly want to treat Ignite talks as short versions of regular talks, so we might as well let them.

Will be curious to see how folks use the lightning talks. I’m guessing that, as with Ignite talks, people will mostly treat them as short versions of regular talks–axing the introduction and methods, assuming a lot of background knowledge on the part of the audience, and glossing over details in the results.

I doubt that the organization into topic groups will do much to enhance discussion, as the 4 talks within a group almost certainly will be too unrelated for that. Rather, I think you’ll mostly just see audience members asking questions of individual speakers. I suspect the main function of the organization into topic groups will be to let audience members pop in and out every 30 minutes.

Are you planning to do a lightning talk at the ESA this year?

2 thoughts on “#ESA100 meeting preview: lightning talks

  1. Intrresting. I tend to agree that it will be hard to group talks sufficiently closely for multi-person synthesis/ conversation after. I’ll be curious to see how this goes.

    One aspect of the mandatory slide change (in Ignite talks) that I like is that it seems to force people to (a) think a little more about what they are going to say with each slide and (b) practice. I’ve wondered whether it is simply this extra level of care and attention that makes the Ignite talks so popular / typically good.

    • Interesting comment about the effects of the mandatory slide change in Ignite talks, I never thought of it that way. But now that I think about it, I haven’t found Ignite talks as a group to have been better prepared, better rehearsed, or better quality than regular talks. But I’m sure your mileage may vary on that.

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