Lightning Talk Submission Information

Submissions are closed.
Date Due Friday, October 23, 2020
Time Due 23:59 AoE (Anywhere on Earth, UTC-12h)
Submission Limits 1 page, 500 words max. (including abstract of 250 words)
Notification to Authors Monday, November 23, 2020
Camera-Ready Deadline Sunday, December 13, 2020
Duration 5 minutes

Author Guidelines: Lightning Talks

Lightning Talks describe works in progress, new and untested ideas, or opportunities for collaborative work. The purpose of a Lightning Talk can be to start a discussion, find collaborators, or receive input and critique about an idea. Proposals are limited to 500 words, including the abstract of 250 words, and will be reviewed with a dual-anonymous process for acceptance. Lightning Talk presentations will be a maximum of 5 minutes each. Presenters may use slides, but these must be submitted to the Lightning Talks chair a few days before the presentation.

Dual-Anonymous Review Process

Initial submissions to the Lightning Talks track are reviewed with the dual-anonymous review process, in which authors must anonymize their submissions — thus reviewers (and APCs for papers) are unaware of the author — and reviewers and APCs are anonymous to each other and to the authors. During the discussion of a submission in EasyChair, reviewers can refer to each other by their reviewer number on that submission’s review.

How Should The Proposal Be Formatted?

Lightning Talk proposals must be submitted in PDF format. The full proposal contains an abstract and a description of your Lightning Talk (as detailed below). The full proposal is used for the review process only and must be anonymized. If the proposal is accepted, the title and authors appear in the printed program and the title, authors, and abstract appear in the online program and proceedings. The format for the proposal is described in the following section.

Lightning Talk Proposal Format and Contents

The proposal is limited to 1 page, 500 words max.), and should include the following:

  • Title: A title for the Lightning Talk.

  • Abstract: A summary of the Lightning Talk. The same abstract will also need to be submitted via a text box on the submission page. Please be sure that your summary is accurate and that both submitted copies (here in the Lightning Talk Proposal, and in the submission text box) are identical. Please recall that the abstract is the only part of the proposal to appear in program and proceedings and should thus be self-contained.

  • Description: Describe your talk in more detail. It will be helpful for reviewers to know why you are excited about the topic, and why you think others will be interested too. Outline how you plan to present your topic in 5 minutes. Lightning talks are expected to explore tentative or preliminary work, or even ideas for possible work. Presentations of mature work will not be considered.

Lightning Talk Abstract

The abstract is the summary of the Lightning talk that will appear on the conference web pages. The summary is limited to, and must match verbatim, the abstract section of the Lightning Talk proposal. The Lightning Talk abstract must be submitted in plain text. Note that the abstracts of accepted Lightning Talks can be edited in response to reviews.

Supplementary Materials

The abstract for an accepted proposal may contain a link to a website with more information. However note that if you choose to include supplementary materials in your initial submission, you are obligated to anonymize the material, e.g., removing author names, using anonymous content hosting services such as Dropbox, as to respect the dual-anonymous review process. Furthermore, reviewers are not obligated to read your supplementary materials, so please ensure that your abstract is still self-contained and sufficient.

Virtual Options

For virtual presentations, the presenter may either present live via conferencing software or provide a recording of their presentation. If a recording is provided, the presenter must be available to participate live in Q&A during the session online via conferencing software.

Sample Proposal

Previous Lightning Talks

How Do I Submit My Lightning Talk?

Please be aware that the submission form asks you to provide demographic information. This demographic information is being collected by ACM; they created the questions and require them to be in the submission form. Please know that the demographic information submitted is not seen (and thus cannot be used in any way) by Technical Symposium reviewers or leadership. We also have no control over the questions asked nor where they appear in the form.

SIGCSE TS 2021 is not participating in the new ACM workflow, template, and production system. MS Word Authors, please use the Interim Template. LaTeX Authors, please use the official ACM Master with the ACM_SigConf template.

Submissions use the English language. If you desire editing services, consider the following from the ACM.

ACM has partnered with International Science Editing (ISE) to provide language editing services to ACM authors. ISE offers a comprehensive range of services for authors including standard and premium English language editing, as well as illustration and translation services. Editing services are at author expense and do not guarantee publication of a manuscript.
  • Prepare your Lightning Talk submission using the format specified above.

  • Recall that you will also need to copy-and-paste or type your text abstract description into a text box in the submission form. Be sure that the same text appears in the submission and in the abstract text box in the submission form.

  • Be sure to choose the appropriate topic areas when submitting. Your choices help in assigning appropriate reviewers to your submission, and assist the reviewers in evaluating the paper from an appropriate perspective.

Details regarding submission upload will be made available when the submission system goes online.

The opening of submissions will be announced through the SIGCSE mailing list, social media, and the front page of this website.

Follow the SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Twitter and SIGCSE on Facebook.


If you have questions about anything discussed above, please contact:

Demos and Lightning Talks Team


  • Jennifer Campbell
    University of Toronto
  • Carsten Kleiner
    University of Applied Sciences & Arts Hannover

Presenting at SIGCSE TS 2021

Important Dates

  • January 22 - (OPTIONAL) Submit video presentation through submission form emailed to corresponding authors

How will I be presenting my work? (Lightning Talks)

Presenters are invited (but not required) to submit a 5 minute presentation of their work that will be made available to attendees roughly two weeks before the Technical Symposium begins on Pathable. Attendees will have the opportunity to access all available content during the weeks leading up to the Symposium and will have access for a year following the end of the Symposium.

Lightning talk presentations will take place live during the Technical Session blocks throughout the week. More information on scheduling will be made available later in January.

How do I submit my video presentation?

A link to the submission form will be sent to the corresponding authors identified in EasyChair. If you did not receive the email by January 8th or if you have any questions, please email

What rights do I keep to my video?

We are not asking for any rights release on your videos. They remain your work to do with as you please. We only ask, as a courtesy, that you do not post them publicly until one week after the end of the Technical Symposium (March 27, 2021).

Why do you need the presentation so soon (January 22)?

Our goal is to make the prerecorded content of the Technical Symposium available a few weeks before the Symposium starts so that attendees can view materials when convenient to them and so they can better build their schedule for the week of the Symposium. In order to meet that goal, we need to preprocess all the videos as soon as possible to ensure they are ready for the Symposium for reasons including, but not limited to:

  • Closed-captioning for all videos (authors do not need to do this on their own - our production company is providing this service)
  • Checking format to ensure videos can play properly in Pathable
  • Validating the length of videos matches the requirements

Update: We have moved the due date from January 15 to January 22 for all presenters to provide more time for those who wish submit to ITiCSE ( or who have more than one video submission they need to make. However, we would very much appreciate videos to be sent in as soon as possible so that we can ensure we have enough time to process all the submissions.

Presentation Guidelines

Video presentations must follow these technical guidelines:

  • MP4 format encoding
  • 1920x1080 (i.e. HD resolution) - If this is not possible for you, please at least record in a 16:9 ratio size
  • 30 frames per second (approximately) is preferred to keep file size more reasonable

Please follow the SIGACCESS Guidelines to create a presentation that all attendees can enjoy and learn from. Below, we summarize these guidelines and add a few more:

  • Choose a high contrast color scheme that supports color blind readers
  • Use more than color coding to communicate information
  • Keep text brief
  • Keep graphics simple and verbally describe images, animations, videos
  • Avoid using a pointer
  • Caption videos (NOTE: we will provide a closed-captioning service for you, but there may be points that you want to highlight)
  • Speak clearly, use a microphone, face the audience, and use common, understandable terms
  • Post your slides early and provide a link them them on the slides (NOTE: we will provide space in Pathable for your slides, but feel free to post them on your own webspace as well)
  • Share your contact information

Best Practices for Recording / Remote Presentations

Here are some best practices to consider as you record your video and prepare for your live session:

  • Find a quiet room with as little background noise as possible.
  • Make sure you are professionally dressed.
  • Sit in the center of the camera shot to ensure proper camera framing.
  • Make sure your face is well lit by sitting in a room with plenty of light. If you can’t find a well-lit room, place a small lamp in front of you but out of the camera view.
  • Do not sit in front of a window. This will cause the camera to adjust for the light, making your face look very dark. Similarly, avoid other light sources behind you.
  • Adjust the camera to be level with your eyes. This will produce the best camera angle. If using a laptop, you may need to put your laptop on an elevated surface in order to get the camera level with your eyes.
  • Always be aware of what is in the camera shot. Make sure there is nothing sitting in the background that you wouldn’t want viewers to see.
  • Use headphones or earbuds to listen to the audio. This helps with the sound quality and ensures you will always be able to hear clearly.
  • Keep your microphone muted during the call unless you are speaking.
  • When speaking and not wearing a headset or earbuds, keep your speaker volume at the lowest setting while still being able to hear. This helps get rid of echoes coming back through your microphone.
  • Use a cabled internet connection when possible. Most connection issues are due to a bad wireless connection.
  • Do a test call beforehand to make sure your microphone, speakers and webcam are all working properly.

How do I record my presentation?

An excellent writeup on recording presentations authored by David Ayman Shamma from the SIGCHI community can be found here:

Using Zoom:

The simplest option is to use Zoom, as it will automatically create the proper file format for you and most of the SIGCSE community is already familiar with the tool.

  • Start a meeting with just you as the only participant
  • Open your slides and start screen sharing as you normally would in a standard Zoom meeting
  • Click “Record” on the main Zoom toolbar at the bottom of the window and select “Record on this Computer”
  • Give your presentation, following the best practices for video recordings
  • When you are done, stop recording, then stop sharing and end the meeting
  • Zoom will automatically convert the video to an .mp4 file format
  • Rename the file as instructed and submit via the form emailed to authors from EasyChair

Using OBS:

If you would like to have more control over the presentation, including things such as:

  • Smoother transitions between your camera full screen and slides
  • Multiple audio/video sources
  • Graphic borders around your camera
  • Sharing multiple windows at the same time

you may want to try the open source Open Broadcaster Software (OBS) at, available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. OBS does require more configuration and setting up than Zoom, but offers a lot of flexibility and options for free. Note that OBS records .mkv files by default. To convert to .mp4, use the “Remux Recordings” option in the File menu.

Using Powerpoint/Keynote:

If you would prefer to not be on camera at all, it is possible to use the “Record Slide Show” option in Powerpoint or Keynote to record a screencast of just your slides.

Converting to .mp4:

If the tool you use does not natively create a .mp4 file for you, you can transcode it for free using Handbrake, found at Choose “Fast 1080p30 preset” to generate the proper file format and size.


Please note that the Technical Symposium is providing a closed-captioning service for all prerecorded videos and live sessions at no cost to you. We are doing this to ensure a standard experience across all aspects of the Symposium.