How to Spark Conversations with Lightning Talks


Running a coworking space is as much about maintaining and stimulating your community as it is getting people through the door in the first place.

Hosting regular events is a great way to integrate new members into your community, increase networking events amongst existing members, and give everyone a chance to learn or try something new.

But hosting regular events requires planning and time commitment, and making sure that you’re putting on something new and interesting every time can be difficult. 

So how can you make sure you’re giving your members something fresh, giving everyone a chance to learn and meet new people, without sinking hours and hours into event planning? 

Lightning talks

Lightning talks are short (usually 5 minutes) talks about a topic that someone is interested in, passionate about, or just wants to share with others, followed by a short (5 minute) Q&A from the audience.

The idea is that someone can present whatever they want; a new development in their industry, something interesting that they’re working on, a new hobby they’ve discovered, a recent unusual experience they’ve had, anything! 

The purpose should always be to spark a discussion or conversation with the audience, led by the Q&A session and followed up by intermittent breaks for further discussions and networking. The talks should open up the audience’s minds to a new way of thinking, or just introduce them to an idea or concept that they’ve not heard of before. 

As the talks are short, there’s not going to be enough time to dive deep into your chosen topic, but this keeps the presentations casual, low pressure and snappy enough to pique interest. And given that each talk lasts around 10 minutes, it’s easy to squeeze a good bunch of talks into a 2 hour evening event, or just a couple into a 30-minute lunch break.

Depending on the interests of your community, you could either host these events with a specific theme in mind i.e. talks about science, technology, personal wellbeing or travel, or you could make each talk totally different, giving the audience a broad range of discussions within a single session. 

Lightning talks are a great way to get your whole community involved; everyone can talk about something for 5 minutes. They’re a great way to spark up conversations between your members and for them to learn more about the people in their community. They’re great for sharing knowledge and can make for some very interesting and funny presentations. They don’t require much planning, can be run regularly without becoming monotonous and are perfect for stimulating your community. 

So next time you’re struggling to think of an event to host, try a lightning talk.

The result might shock you.