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Coming this Fall: Lightning Talks on Your Work… You Are Invited to Apply

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Aug 19, 2019
Joe Shoenfeld

Involved in an Interesting Extension, Research or Integrated Project That You’d Like to Share? Figured Out an Interesting Solution to an Old (or New) Problem? Nominate Yourself or a Colleague!

This year, the Retreat for Faculty, Staff, and Friends of UMass Extension, to be held on Tuesday, October 29, will feature an hour’s worth of short ‘Lightning Talks’ on our work. If you’ve never seen a Lightning Talk, they are a fast, fun way to share serious information, widen your audience, and learn about the work of your colleagues. Examples of Lightning Talks 

How It Works
The goal of a Lightning Talk is to articulate a topic in a quick, insightful, and clear manner. These concise talks, limited to five minutes and up to three background slides, are intended to grab the attention of the audience, convey key information, and allow several presenters to share their ideas/information in a brief period of time. Tips on presenting Lightning Talks

Talks are arranged one after the other. Lightning Talks are brief; this requires the speaker to make their points clearly and avoid non-critical information. Even if some of the subjects aren't interesting to everybody, the next one comes just a few minutes later. These talks provide an opportunity for people to present their work and for the audience to find out what is happening with a project, a department or a facility. Perhaps more importantly, the audience can find out who to talk to—connecting names and faces to subjects.
Lightning Talks are not intended to go very deep. This is as much a strength as it is a weakness, though, as presenters are forced to focus on what matters most. All of those who are selected to give talks will also work with us so that we can produce a straightforward display board on the topic for use at the retreat in spurring conversation and also for the presenters’ use in other contexts afterwards.

Who Can Give a Lightning Talk?
Anyone who is planning to be present at the retreat can apply to give a Lightning Talk. We hope that there is an interesting mix of staff and faculty working in differing areas and encourage applications!

How To Apply
It’s easy! Email your name and topic to Joe Shoenfeld by Thursday, October 3. Please also include 2-4 sentences or bullet points that represent what you want to convey in your presentation. Don’t try to capture everything in the description, and don’t worry about them being perfectly written, but try to give a flavor of the presentation. 


  • Talks are limited to five minutes. Please time yourself before your presentation. We will move you along if you go over five minutes (gently).
  • Email your 0-3 slides, as a PDF, by Oct 17. They will be background slides, so it will be better to have a few large images or words on them rather than a lot of small information.
  • To encourage follow-up conversations, we will prepare a poster about your topic. Attendees will mingle around the room at breaks to dig deeper into your talk. We will provide a worksheet to those who are selected to provide content to us for the display.
  • There are many kinds of topics that could be appropriate for these talks. Be imaginative! Topics might be extension, research, or integrated research and extension projects or ongoing work or a great topic could also be a distinctive way of accomplishing something or an interesting facet of your work life.
  • Presenters can nominate themselves or can be nominated by a colleague or friend. If someone else nominates you, you will have a chance to say yes or no to doing the presentation. Applications are welcome from Extension and CAFE staff (including farm staff), allied faculty, and Extension Faculty. The retreat committee will review all submissions and chose 8-10 topics that showcase Extension, CAFE, and cooperating departments.
  • Four or five presentations will be showcased in the morning session and four or five in the afternoon. Presenters should plan on attending the whole retreat (8:30-3:00).

Questions? Contact Joe Shoenfeld ( or Bill Miller (