Symposium: Don Berkich, Lightning Rounds

At IACAP’s 2014 meeting in Thessaloniki I introduced a symposium, “The Lightning Rounds”, consisting of 5-minute presentations on any topic of the presenter’s choice, followed by three minutes question and answer and a two minute break for discussion and set-up before moving on to the next Lightning Round. I solicited presenters from among conference attendees the day prior to the session. Popular at computer science conferences, I described the symposium as an experiment to see whether such an event would succeed at an IACAP meeting. Attendance varied from 5 to 12 during the two-hour event, with a total of 8 presentations. Presentations were lively, witty, varied, and fascinating. Discussion was vigorous. Upon informal polling, attendees and presenters alike unanimously recommended the Lightning Rounds be made a regular feature.

Accordingly, I proprosed and received approval to further develop the Lightning Rounds at IACAP’s 2015 meeting in Delaware. The Lightning Rounds in Delaware were, I thought, highly successful. Attendance varied from 14 to 18, and we had enough presentations to completely fill 2 hours with a total of 10 presentations. Situating the Rounds at the end of the conference worked extremely well, as presenters had much to say about what they had heard and discussed the previous few days at the conference. Moreover, I’m increasingly convinced that the short format presentations are a refreshing change of pace for audience members and a boon to presenters in terms of trying out arguments and ideas they’d otherwise refrain from presenting.

As before, it was an engaging, fast-paced, and thoroughly enjoyable ‘cap’ to the conference. My plan in Ferrara is to solicit six or eight presentations in advance and leave the remaining slots open for participants. Ideally, the Lightning Rounds would again be timed well towards the end of the conference to encourage commentary and counter-argument on conference presentations.