ShmooCon FireTalks

FireTalks LogoShmooCon FireTalks are 15 minute presentations meant to be an alternative to the traditional 30 to 90 minute conference format. Similar to 5 minute Lightning Talks, the purpose is to challenge speakers to skip the BS and instead dive right into the meat of their content in a more relaxed alternative environment. Unlike Lightning Talks, which are usually performed in rapid succession, the additional time provides a less fragmented experience for the audience and allows time for the speaker to follow a more traditional introduction, body, and conclusion format.

The FireTalks usually take place Friday and Saturday nights at ShmooCon between the main track presentations and any evening activities. Other meetups and conferences have also adopted the FireTalks concept into their schedule format as well.

Current Year – 2016

Not much to discuss here as of yet but be sure to check out for blog posts below to keep up to date with what’s happening as we approach the conference.

  • Coming soon…

If you’d like to learn more about ShmooCon FireTalks, please read on below for a general history as well as summaries and blog posts organized be year.

And as always please let your fellow peers know what you think about FireTalks in the comments below … whether how great … or sucky … they were/are for any individual year or just overall. As time goes on we hope to incorporate your feedback directly into each years’ area or just in an overall section.


The idea of FireTalks seemed to originate with Michael “@catalyst” Santarcangelo. The post titled “Podcaster’s Meetup @ ShmooCon” by Rob “@mubix” Fuller on appears to be the first place that this idea came up. As part of several announcements, one of them was this interesting idea from @catalyst.

“Michael Santarcangelo, the Security Catalyst community and the Security Twits have come up with a group that will be doing after hours presentations. So, if you were declined, didn’t submit but have a talk, or just want to learn to speak by watching the critiques that go on, please come out an join us. The main goal of these after hours talks is to foster the development of the speaker in a less imposing environment than a ShmooCon track. Depending on the responses we get, we may be doing these talks all three nights. …”

This article was followed up with a more focused definition in an updated post aptly titled “Podcaster’s Meetup @ ShmooCon Update 1” again by @mubix. Here is where the term “Firetalks” was first used as far as I can tell.

“Have a talk that didn’t get accepted? Want the chance to share a project that you are working on? Think of FireTalks as a verbal blog post. The human experience is built on the ability to tell and learn from stories. At SchmooCon 2009, “FireTalks” is a supportive environment in which to either share insights or learn from others. Whether polishing a presentation (story) for conferences, meetings or training, FireTalks are the way to share, learn and improve. The inaugural FireTalks take place Friday night — following the Podcasters Meetup. Talks are limited to 10-15 minutes with four (4) scheduled talks and four (4) open slots. Open slots will be filled on a first come, first serve basis. Saturday night will be more relaxed. Come join us and present, listen and learn.”


Here is a list of our blog posts from FireTalks 2015.


Here is a list of our blog posts from FireTalks 2014.


Here is a list of our blog posts from FireTalks 2013.


Here is a list of our blog posts from FireTalks 2012.

Held in a similar room as 2011 but right next to the main conference area, we had an absolutely great turnout. At some points with standing-room only, the speakers definitely took the talks to the next level. The key thing that stuck out this year for us was the slippery podium surface that laptops kept on falling off of.


Here is a list of our blog posts from FireTalks 2011.

Held at the Hilton first the first time, the Bring It On room this year was an absolutely gorgeous semi-circle space with two levels of seating. Great talks and great turnout!

2010 – The Take-Over (a.k.a., Snowmageddon)

Well probably not a take-over per se but more or less the year we chatted with @mubix and offered to run with it. And the rest is history… Here is a list of our blog posts from FireTalks 2010.

Full of last minute room changes, missing audio/video gear, and a few snow balls, it turned out to be a great time with some awesome talks. The Shmoo Group even let us use the Bring It On room. Twitter saved us for the room changes and the ShmooCon staff came to the rescue with the AV gear that the hotel staff accidentally removed. We also introduced a fireplace cut out hence the reason why the FireTalks are sometimes referred to as FireSides. The fireplace never returned but we still get the FireSides reference every once in a while. (picture courtesy

2009 – The Beginning

As discussed in the History section above this was the year that started this whole idea off. Although there were probably others involved, the lead instigators were Michael Santarcangelo and Rob “@mubix” Fuller.

Blog Posts

Held at the end of a hallway in the in the ShmooCon area of the Wardman Park about the only thing we can remember from this year was Jack Daniel doing his inaugural “sock puppets” presentation. Other presenters included Paul Asadoorian and Marcus Carey. If you happen to know a list of all the presenters, please let us know in the comments. To get you started we think the PaulDotCom folks may have some audio laying around on the cutting room floor with the rest of the talks from this year. (picture courtesy Jack Daniel’s Flickr feed)

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