In our article, Solve big problems with speed and urgency, I talk about how FFWD Sprints can be used to experiment quickly and cheaply with new ideas to validate the underlying assumptions before investing too much time and money in the idea.

To recap, each FFWD Sprint is slightly different depending on what we want to achieve and how much time is available but generally moves through four phases:

  • Learn about the context, user needs, and technical possibilities;
  • Ideate and design solutions to test;
  • Prototype the best ideas;
  • Test the prototype with customers or key stakeholders.

In our experience, the success of any sprint is largely determined by the quality of the preparation, i.e. the Learn phase. This is because we cannot begin to design solutions if we do not have a deep understanding of what it is our customers (internal or external) really need and the limitations within which we are working.

Some of the learning activities that happen before the sprint would typically involve conducting interviews with stakeholders, subject matter experts, and customers as well as researching relevant topics, such as:

  • Competitor research
  • Customer research,
  • Industry research,
  • Product audits,
  • Technology considerations

Playing back all this information to the core team can very easily result in a “death by PowerPoint” scenario and to combat this and introduce a sense of urgency, we use Lighting Talks as an alternative mechanism for disseminating information. Think TED Talks!

Many conferences and workshops have been moving away from the traditional presentation and poster sessions and instead use short talk formats including Lightning Talks, Pecha Kucha (20×20), and Ignite (20×15). Each of these allows many speakers to present in a session in rapid succession. Lightning talks are typically 5 minutes long (as opposed to the 25+5 format for a normal presentation slot), whereas Pecha Kucha (20 slides each shown for 20 seconds) and Ignite (20×15) have the added impetus of automatically advancing slides after a fixed amount of time.

During the morning of Day 1 of the Sprint, each person doing a talk prepares a 5 to 10 minute Lightning Talk summarising what they have learned from the interviews or research they conducted and presents it to the rest of the sprint team. While listening to the talks, the team translate the insights gained into How Might We questions which will form the basis of the ideation phase.

Here are three helpful hints to help you prepare your own Lightning Talk.

Delivery is more important than content

It’s important to remember that most of the guidelines for good presentations still apply. Lightning talks are there to enable the team to absorb as much information as possible in a short space of time. Beware of clutter – visually and verbally. Your audience will not have time to digest much information on any given slide.

You are not there to lecture them, you’re there to inspire them to come up with novel solutions.

For example, telling a story about a customer journey is better than a bullet point list of customer demands.

Practice makes perfect.

Make your point, Make it quickly

What the short talk format provides you with is a framework to get down to the essence of what you are trying to convey. You only have time to say four (maybe five) things, so choose them wisely. Get to your main points early on. Don’t leave it to the end.

Do not talk fast in order to get everything in! Instead, cut down on “everything.”

In other words, summarise the key findings on slide 1, and then back it up with a few supporting slides.

Don’t sweat the small stuff

Use large images and as little text as possible. Don’t crowd and confuse with unnecessary information. Leave out the details.

You do NOT want to compress a 60-minute presentation into a 5-minute lightning talk. Instead, stick to the key learnings you want to convey.

People want to discover new insights, not everything there is to know about the subject.


Want to learn more?

That’s the spirit. Check out more of our articles:

Floris Buys

Floris Buys

#corporateventuring, #designsprint, #stopwastingmoney, #scientificinnovation

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