YAPC::EU Day 1
During today's lightning talks, Geoffrey Avery added a new "lightning advertisements" feature to the session. Lightning advertisements are 30-second "promotional spots" that occur between each pair of talks; these help to fill the "dead air time" that typically occurs between each talk as the next lightning talk speaker works to get his or her presentation synced with the projector.
The purpose of a lightning advertisement is to simply create awareness or buzz about something happening at the conference. For example, I used my lightning advertisement to remind people of the Rakudo BOF taking place immediately after the lightning talk session. I'm certain that this directly increased the number of people who made it to the BOF, so I'm very pleased that Geoffrey added this feature to the session.
Others used the 30-second lightning advertisement slots to make announcements about other BOFs taking place and items being put for sale at the auction.
In order for things to run smoothly, it's important that there be a second microphone available for advertisers to use while the next lightning talk speaker is setting up. Also, the advertisers need to be at the front "ready to go" when one talk finishes and the next begins. With only 30 seconds available, there's not really time for slides or any visuals -- it's just the person making whatever announcement there is to be made.
In today's session several advertisers had difficulty finding the "on/off" switch on the microphone (it was really tiny); I suspect things can go a bit smoother if there's someone selected as the "microphone manager" to make sure it's correctly configured for each advertiser.
With eight lightning talk speakers, there are seven slots for lightning advertisements. When the session began there were only three "advertisers" at the front of the room, but as the lightning talks progressed (and people discovered how advertisements worked) the remaining four slots were quickly filled. I suspect it would be no problem for some slots to remain empty if there aren't sufficient advertisers, but I also suspect that as the idea catches on there will be no lack of advertisers. It also didn't seem to require much formal organization; the advertisers simply designated themselves by sitting at the front of the room, and we JIT-ted the ordering of advertisers as the session progressed.
I found the lightning advertisements to be an incredibly useful addition to the lightning talks session; kudos to Geoffrey Avery for adding them. I hope they become a regular feature of future lightning talk sessions.