Five slides


I was asked to give a lightning talk this week, part of a series of lightning talks on related topics. I was told that the talk is to last 15 minutes, and that I can’t use more than five slides.

I found this contraint to be highly refreshing. Rather than meander all over the place, we speakers need to stick to the point, not waste time, and follow a clear and well defined argument.

Here is how I put together my slides: The first slide gives an overarching picture of what we’re about. Who are we, why do we exist, and why should anyone care?

The second slide gives our history, telescoped down to one mosaic of images. This is where I convey to people what we’ve been up to for the last five years or so, so they can follow our trajectory from the beginning.

The third and fourth slides cover two different areas of our research, chosen to be as far apart as possible. The hope is to get people thinking about a range of topics, and hopefully to see how all those topics tie together.

Finally, the fifth slide shows where we are heading next. In a way it’s a fulfillment of the promise of the very first slide. This is where we get to round out the narrative, not as a circle but as a helix, rolling ever forward into the future.

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