The 3-minute ‘Lightning’ presentation format was a great success at the 19th Australian Rangelands Conference in Pt Augusta. This was an innovation for the ARS Conferences. ‘Lightning’ presentations are short, sharp presentations – each presenting a flash of insight, fertilising the atmosphere, igniting fresh discussion/’fires’ or leading to new shoots of enquiry – just as lightning strikes do in our rangelands. There were 21 presentations, each restricted to 3 slides and 3 minutes. Contributions could be on any topic, not necessarily relevant to the conference theme. A number of presenters also contributed poster presentations for further information.

There were two Lightning sessions, which Martin Andrew and John Taylor convened. They organised the submitted presentations under seven themes: Big Pictures, Restoration, Animal Production, Growing Human Capacity, Looking Ahead, Soil Matters, and Managing and Restoring Rangeland Vegetation.

The Lightning sessions were judged a great success, and allowed many participants to highlight their work who would otherwise not have appeared in the program. They also made for lively programming that held the audience’s interest.

Some of the lightning presenters – (clockwise from top left) Dionne Walsh, Russell Sinclair and Caroline Nefiodovas.

Dr Dionne Walsh unanimously won the prize for the best Lightning presentation: “How much does a cow eat? A billion dollar question for northern Australian development”. This was judged by the Program Committee members on the criteria: information conveyed, new thinking, effective delivery, effectiveness of the slides to support the message, audience engagement, stimulus for further discussion, and meeting the 3 minute limit.

Dionne receives her prize for the best Lightning Presentation from David Phelps

Martin Andrew had previously trialled this mode of presentation last year in different context entirely at Qualcon, the Australian Quality Conference; there they were called ‘3-minute Quality Snippets’, and they were similarly successful. He will certainly include them again in next year’s Qualcon in Brisbane, Oct 14-16, for which he is program convener.

John Taylor had successfully employed a similar format at the Primary Industry Education Foundation Australia (PIEFA) 2016 conference in Canberra with great success.

The 3 minute format was pioneered by the ‘Three Minute Thesis’ (3MT), introduced by the University of Queensland and now an annual international competition, in which University research students summarise their thesis in 3 minutes. If you live near a University, look out for the University’s final presentations which are usually open to the public. Not only will you learn interesting things, but observe masterful presentations of complex material in under 3