We did our first tester Lightning Round yesterday, which consisted of ten testers, who each had five minutes to make their point to a room full of other testers. To keep it fun, and I think, in the tradition of typical Lighting Rounds, we displayed a digital clock on the wall to track each speaker’s time. When a speaker used more than their five minutes, we threw squishy balls at them to make them stop.

The point of a Lightning Round is to give the audience one specific action item, without them having to endure a one hour lecture. This also gives the audience a variety of topics in a short time span. The advantage for the speakers is the short preparation time required to speak for five minutes.

Yesterday’s Lightning Round was an experimental version of something we’ve been doing for the last couple of years at my company. Testers from various projects and departments meet to exchange ideas. But normally we meet to attend an hour-long presentation about a single testing topic. Yesterday’s feedback indicated Lightning Rounds were way better to attend than the usual hour-long-single-topic session. Although, several testers said five minutes was too short. Some suggested five speakers with ten minutes each.

Personally, I think it was the five minute limit that kept the energy high and kept the audience from getting bored. But I’m willing to compromise. The larger problem, however, is getting testers to volunteer for these. I had to talk five of the speakers into doing it just to get my ten. Apparently, there are few testers willing to share their ideas with any conviction.

Anyway, the topics in yesterday’s section were the following:

  • Stop Writing Test Cases
  • Regression Testing Importance – Fact or Fiction?
  • How SOX Changed Our QA Process
  • What Programmer Profiling Taught Me About Choosing the Best Tests
  • Jing, A Favorite Test Tool
  • How to Increase Your Focus During Testing
  • Using Automation to Generate Large Amounts of Data
  • Why It’s Better to Have More Short Test Scripts Than Fewer Long Test Scripts
  • How Usability Testing is Making a Comeback with the Surge of Human-Computer Interaction Engineering
  • Smoke Testing vs. Sanity Testing
Mine was the Programmer Profiling topic. A respected colleague told me he didn’t care for it. Maybe I’ll blog about it later.


  1. Anonymous said...

    Can you elaborate about Programmer Profiling? I am intrigued (at least a link).

  2. Adam White said...


    Glad your experiment went well - keep up this kind of activity.

    We tried out the idea of tester debates where we had a "for" side and an "against". The topic was "Every test case should have an expected result".

    We had the same problem as you - getting people to volunteer. We did get two candidates and everyone had a great time.

  3. Eric Jacobson said...

    Anonymous, yes, I promise to! Thanks for asking.

  4. Eric Jacobson said...

    Great to see your comment, Adam. Test Debates sounds awesome. I totally have to try it.

    One of my favorite podcasts is Intelligence Squared, where they have Oxford-style debates about challenging political topics, and the winner is the team that changes the most minds in the audience. They vote before and after.

    Your topic sounds interesting.

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