My experience giving my first lightning talk ⚡️

Carla Urrea Stabile
3 min readOct 14, 2019


A couple of weeks ago I attended to the FullStackFest in Sitges, it was great to get to know people with the same interests as me and also a fantastic opportunity to present my first lightning talk ever.

The conference lasted 3 days, and in between coffee breaks I was helping my colleagues in the stand of the company I work for, so I could talk to many of the attendees, this made me realise how smart everyone was and how we were all there to learn from each other. At the same time, talking to people made me see how empathetic the dev community is and how it was worth to give it a try and present a lightning talk.

This year I also met great people at the RubyUnconf who I think are great presenters and I could take some tips from them as well. My intention is to share some of those tips and some of my own.

So, first things first:

What to talk about? 🤔

So, I’m a Software Engineer, currently working with Ruby On Rails apps, but I’ve also worked several years as an Android Developer and Backend Developer using Django, so when thinking about a topic my first thought is: it must be something about programming.

Turned out, I talked about how we currently handle pull requests from GitHub in our team, so not really about programming but kind of related. The main reason I choose this topic is, well… I had very short time to prepare and even though I program almost every day of my week, a programming talk deserves way more preparation than that. Talk about a process we repeat almost everyday seemed definitely easier.

How to make it last less than 5 minutes? ⌛️

Challenging enough, not only the first time talking in front of ~600 people but to get to the point in less than 5 minutes. I believe the most important part is to KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid), yes! I tried my best to keep it simple but give enough details. Even when I felt I couldn’t give more details I tried my best to point people into researching more about a certain tool or process.

One thing that really helped me was to plan the talk to actually be 4 minutes long, just in case I felt like giving more details in the moment.

How to overcome nervousness? 😥

My friends and colleagues say I didn’t look nervous but I was freaking the f out. My heart was beating super fast and I had to make an effort to speak and breathe at the same time.

So how did I deal with that? same way I try to deal with awkward situations in my day to day: making jokes or making people laugh. One good thing was, when you were on that huge stage you couldn’t really see the audience, but you could hear them perfectly. So when I felt nervous and made a silly joke, I could hear them laugh a little bit and that would give me a little more confidence make me more relaxed.

Another good thing to do is to think the people sitting there are as willing to learn as you! 🥰

Take tips from more experienced people 🤓

We are always beginners at some point, take your time to see other people’s presentations and take tips from them. Take a look on how they organize their slides, how they tell their story and then make your own way to tell your own story.

Final thoughts… 💭

Thankfully I had a great experience, people were super nice and hopefully they enjoyed as much as I did.

Hope this helps you to find the courage to present your own talk! 💪

Pretending to be cool about it but freaking out in reality :)