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Thought leadership and lightning talks at the 45th GPA

In preparation for the 45th GPA meeting in Bermuda that will take place between 15 and 20 October 2023, collaboration between the host, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Bermuda (PrivCom), and the GPA programme advisory committee developed a list of potential topics for presentations and shortlisted those to be included based on the committee’s feedback and availability of speakers.

A new feature added to this year’s event agenda is a series of ‘Lightning Talks’. These talks will be used throughout the agenda to provide thought-provoking insight into topics such as climate change, corporate social responsibility, ancestry vis-à-vis genetic information, and neuro privacy, to name a few. These topics, which may not otherwise have been included on the agenda, were chosen to grab participant attention and to transition ‘in and out’ of panel discussions, coffee breaks, etc., giving participants an opportunity to consider the content and discuss during their social times. They have also been added to increase remote attendance and to broaden the range of topics shared with meeting participants.


So, what exactly are lighting talks and how do they relate to the concept of thought leadership?

Before answering this question, let us first outline some key aspects of “thought leadership”.


Thought leadership is a strategic approach in which individuals or organisations contribute to the advancement of knowledge and innovation and establish themselves as authoritative and influential figures within a particular field: in this case, data privacy. Thought leaders are subject matter experts who possess an in-depth understanding of privacy. They are well-versed in current trends, emerging technologies, and relevant research, introduce novel concepts and innovative approaches that inspire, inform, and guide others. Thought leaders are often recognised for their ability to shape opinions, guide decision-making and drive conversations, trends, developments, even change within their respective subject areas. They are known for offering unique, valuable perspectives and forward-thinking insights, ideas, and solutions that challenge existing norms, encourage critical thinking, and are sought after by peers, professionals, even the general public. Thought leaders focus on the bigger picture and long-term trends rather than just short-term gains. They anticipate future developments and help their audience understand them and prepare for upcoming changes.


Lightning talks, also known as “lightning presentations”, or their conceptual siblings, “ignite talks”, “Pecha Kucha” and Ted Talks, are brief, concise, and focused presentations that typically last for a short duration, often around 5 to 10 minutes. These talks deliver valuable insights and convey a specific, often complex concept in an accessible and engaging manner. When applied to thought leadership in the context of privacy, lightning talks offer several benefits:


  • Accessibility: Thought leaders often deal with complex or niche subjects. Lightning talks challenge thought leaders to break down these ideas into understandable and relatable components, making the content more accessible to a broader audience.


  • Efficiency: Lightning talks force speakers to condense their complex ideas into their most essential components within a limited timeframe. This efficiency encourages presenters to distill their thoughts, focus on key points, and eliminate unnecessary details in order to convey their main points concisely. For thought leadership in privacy, this means delivering the most important and impactful insights without overwhelming the audience with too much information. Preparing and delivering lightning talks hones important skills such as effective storytelling, public speaking, and clear communication.


  • Engagement: Lightning talks demand a high level of engagement from both presenters and the audience. In the context of privacy, it is crucial for thought leaders to be articulate and captivating, capturing the audience's attention and maintaining their interest and attention throughout the presentation. Lightning talks achieve this by delivering information in a dynamic and energetic manner, which is especially important when discussing intricate and nuanced privacy-related matters.


  • Diversity: Hosting a series of lightning talks allows for the exploration of multiple facets of privacy thought leadership. Speakers can cover different aspects of privacy, such as legal frameworks, technological innovations, ethical considerations, etc. This diversity of perspectives enhances thought leadership by showcasing a range of insights and viewpoints on a subject, contributing to a more comprehensive understanding of the topic, whilst catering to the diverse interests of the audience.


  • Focus: Thought leaders in privacy are challenged to prioritise the most critical aspects of their message and deliver them succinctly. Lightning talks compel speakers to focus on the core message, making it easier for the audience to understand and grasp key privacy concepts. The brevity of these talks prevents speakers from veering off topic, ensuring that the content remains tightly aligned with the privacy theme. This skill is valuable not only in presenting but also in the thought leadership content they create across various mediums.


  • Impact: Delivering a powerful lightning talk demonstrates thought leadership in action. It showcases thought leaders’ ability to distill knowledge and present it persuasively, reinforcing their reputation as an expert in their field. For individuals or organisations aiming to establish themselves as thought leaders in the privacy domain, lightning talks offer a chance to showcase their expertise. Lightning talks encourage thought leaders to manage their time effectively. This skill translates into better time management in other areas of thought leadership, too. By delivering succinct, insightful presentations, speakers can demonstrate their in-depth knowledge and understanding of privacy-related matters, enhancing their credibility and reputation in the field.


  • Learning: Lightning talks are an excellent way for thought leaders to quickly acquire new information and stay up-to-date with the latest trends in privacy. As busy professionals, privacy thought leaders can use these talks to learn about emerging issues, innovative solutions, and industry best practices in a compact timeframe. A well-delivered lightning talk has the potential to make a lasting impression on the audience due to its succinct, engaging, and impactful content and people are more likely to remember key takeaways.


  • Liaising and networking: Lightning talks often occur in events that provide a platform for thought leaders to connect, share insights, and collaborate and foster an environment for networking and interaction. These sessions can facilitate meaningful discussions, sharing of ideas, and the establishment of valuable connections. Participants can engage in discussions after the talks, fostering a sense of community and enabling the exchange of valuable ideas.

To sum up, lightning talks are a powerful tool for promoting thought leadership. Within the context of data privacy, they enable efficient communication of complex ideas, engage diverse audiences, facilitate networking and collaboration, and contribute to the development of a well-rounded perspective on privacy-related issues. Integrating lightning talks into the agenda at the 45th GPA hosted in Bermuda will bring exciting topics for discussion and aim to enhance communication effectiveness, increase engagement, and help thought leaders establish themselves as experts in their chosen field.


PrivCom looks forward to introducing lighting talks to the 45th GPA meeting.


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