Department Talks

Learn how inter-department talks are a good idea for the growth of your team and organization.

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If your lightning talks gain traction, you could consider expanding talk slots to your department, soliciting input from anyone on any team. You can do this in a number of ways, depending on the appetite of those in your department to engage. A good place to start is to ask whether anyone in the department would like to take ownership of organizing the talks. This could be you to begin with, but it’s also an opportunity for someone looking for additional ways to contribute.

Here’s what they’ll need to consider:

  • Booking a regular time slot that the talks will take place, for example, biweekly

  • Soliciting ideas for talks and keeping the talks’ agenda up to date

  • Advertising upcoming talks to ensure that people attend

  • Ensuring that the AV setup works for both physically present and distributed team members (Most videoconferencing software works fine.), depending on the size of your company, this may involve coordinating with IT or whoever handles booking the presentation spaces in your office

  • Recording the presentations so that they can be shared later for those unable to attend

A good length for internal technical talks is about twenty to thirty minutes. As long as the talks are concise, a lot of material can be covered within that time. The main benefit of these talks is to raise the visibility of different people, ideas, and projects within the department. A lot of the valuable connections and conversation come afterward.

Ideas for department talks

Here’s a bunch of different ideas for talks that you can offer as suggestions:

  • Show and tells for projects that are currently underway or have recently been completed
  • Deep dives into the inner workings of products and architecture from those that work on it
  • Success stories of how individuals or teams solved particular challenging problems
  • Horror stories that highlight what happens when everything goes wrong
  • Introductions to new technologies for those that are learning something new either at work or for fun
  • A collection of lightning talks from multiple participants, batched together in one session
  • Cultural and well-being elements, such as dealing with stress, avoiding burnout, becoming a new parent, and so on
  • External speakers can even come in and present. If anyone in your department knows anyone interesting, then an external perspective can be extremely valuable. How is another company solving a particular problem? What can you learn from them?

Interesting topics are limitless, and department talks can become a fixture that staff really look forward to. It’s an opportunity to gather, take a break from work, and learn. It’s also a fantastic way for speakers to practice their skills in front of a friendly, but substantial, audience.

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