This year’s TNC had a lot of exciting things to offer, as experts ranging from industry to academia gathered at the beautiful city of Linz, Austria to share ideas of mutual interest. Lightning talks have been one of the highlights of past TNCs and this year GÉANT thought of a “twist in the tale” by inviting students to present their ideas through 5 minute lightning talks. I was one of the six students who had to go through the thrill of the clock ticking away and every one wanting to listen to that ‘danger zone tone’ which was played in the last 10 seconds.

I still remember the day I started preparing for my lightning talk very vividly. The selected students were offered webinars by GÉANT through trainers who can be considered as the best in the business. The tricks we learnt during the webinars came in handy, especially the voice exercises we were told to do before the talk. We weren’t able to practice them on TNC17 stage though; otherwise the Plenary Room A would have witnessed some ‘beatboxing’.

I believe my fellow student speakers went through the same adrenaline rush as experienced by myself, so I would like to share my experience on the TNC stage. While writing the talk, there was a lot that we needed to consider, other than the excruciatingly difficult job to make it fit within the time limit that we were allowed. I wanted to be able to make it as interesting as possible while also conveying the seemingly complex idea in language decipherable by people other than engineers. I remember being pretty nervous on the day of my talk, but I was also very excited on being one of the six student presenters (everyone seemed to be really impressed by that I believe). I tried to engage with the audience by taking them through a story and adding in humour, and by the sound of the applause I received by the end of it, I am guessing I made a good decision. During the talk, amidst the constant worry of forgetting sentences and messing up the presentation slideshow, I was taken aback by the huge presence of audience. I was glancing at the timer every now and then as if it would eat me up alive if I spoke a single word after it went off. I conveyed my idea to the audience, and by the end of the presentation, I saw that I still had a few seconds to spare. Another added pressure to the whole situation was the fact that my mother was watching me live thousands of kilometers away in Pakistan, and since I missed her incredibly, I decided to give her a shout-out at the end. (My sister was smart enough to record mom’s reaction on video and all I can say is that giving her a shout-out was SO worth it!)

All in all, #TNC17 was an ‘enLightning’ experience and we look forward to #TNC18.

Rafay Iqbal Ansari

Frederick University/CYNET

The Student Lighting Talk Team