What Are Lightning Talks and How do They Help Your Business?

Lightning Talks are a presentation format where speakers slam a topic for a max of 5 minutes per speaker, and each speaker has a different self-picked topic. There are no constraints on topics aside from being HR safe. They’re designed to keep audiences engaged and to be presented back to back during a session, which gives the audience opportunities to learn a lot in a short amount of time.

1. Develop & Grow Public Speaking Skills 

As a speaker, you get to practice public speaking in a time limited format, which builds a bunch of separate skills that comprise public speaking. You’ll notice a marked difference in your effectiveness as a public speaker after presenting monthly Lightning Talks. Lightning Talks are a great low risk speaking platform, as if you don’t pull it off well, your audience isn‘t stuck in some boring lecture for forty-five minutes. Lightning Talks are an exceptional learning tool. 

2. Generate Company Culture 

The true value of Lightning Talks is in generating culture. Because of the ease of entry, new employees and associates can get involved in the culture of a company from day one without yet understanding how they fit in to that culture. When new associates see senior leadership and their peers from across the company all laughing and participating, they inevitably view them as a low-cost entry device to begin fitting in and feeling valued.


This actively generates new culture as people grow closer together.

3. Create Inclusive Office Environment 

It’s important to focus on a holistic approach when incorporating Lightning Talks into your existing culture initiatives. You must have buy-in from leaders throughout your team for existing associates to truly value them. That means that everyone from leadership through brand new associates have equal footing and flexibility to present after one another. Lightning Talks are just show-and-tell for professionals, and the reality is everyone likes show-and-tell. When they become something intrinsically valuable to leadership, Lightning Talks don’t just expand culture, they cycle it. 

Implementing Lightning Talks is Easy.   

  • Dedicate somewhere between 30 minutes to an hour every month or two.  
  • Put a sign-up sheet somewhere on your network or facility.  
  • Have open signups where associates who want to speak write down their name, topic, and a link to their (optional) presentation slides.  
  • During the talks, set up a 5-minute timer for each speaker, as not going over time is important to the integrity of the talks!  
  • When one talk finishes, everyone generally gives applause and a targeted question and answer session if needed, and the next talk begins. 

It’s really that simple, but the off-paper effects to your culture are incredible! Lightning Talks should become a key component of your core culture generation strategy – you’ll love how effective they are for the minimal effort they require. They should be one of many efforts within your company that allows you to foster a culture of collaboration, innovation, and empowerment.