Pecha-Kucha: The Haiku of the Presentation World

  • SumoMe

pechakuchaI heard someone talking about a Pecha-Kucha the other day and I had no idea what they were talking about. They referred to someone giving a presentation and how this seems to be catching on. Not one to be left out of the loop, I went searching for it.

Pecha-Kucha is a rigidly structured presentation format that contains 20 slides or images, each lasting 20 seconds (20×20). The format created by partners of an architecture & design firm. More info can be found here:

They created this format because when architects were asked to present a project, they would spend a tremendous amount of time on things that might not warrant it, and thus lose the audience. With the Pecha-Kucha format each image automatically progresses at 20 seconds, so there is no room for drawn out presentations. Six minutes and forty seconds and you are outta there, so you need to get down to business.

Pecha-Kucha is copyrighted insofar as if you were to host a Pecha-Kucha Event, you’d need to go through the appropraite channels. To use this format of 20×20 in a presentation on your own, you’re good to go.  The moral of the story (or format) is restrictions are good!

I’m the first one to say training is not the same as presenting. But I think that this type of format can be used might be good for larger sessions to the stage or provide an introduction to a topic or person. It forces the creator to look at the content and take out the less crucial pieces of information, let the cream rise to the top.

Haikus (17 syllables), Twitter (140 characters), and Vine (six seconds of video) and even commercials (radio more so than TV) are all great examples of content flourishing because of the restricted format. The message to the creator, “Cram your message into this little space. Right here!” To the consumer, “Alright, hang in there for just a sec and you might actually be entertained and informed.”

Other benefits?

Timing for presenters and trainers, new and old, can be elusive and the Pecha-Kucha format allows for timing related feedback every 20 seconds. You know immediately if you’re speaking too slow or too fast and are able (hopefully) for adjust as needed. It almost works like a Kanban (Japanese Just-in-Time production delivery) system, where you have a highly visual indicator for when you need to parts, or words to go with your presentation. Feedback is important, but you knew that.

Rapid delivery of material keeps learners engaged. Just like you have a clear expectation to be done in 6’40”, the learner (or viewer) can be confident that they only have to be plugged in for the same amount of time which is a reasonable requirement, even in todays world of A.D.D.

The restrictions of the format mean you’re more likely to practice and not ad-lib the whole damn thing. Shooting from the hip will only get you so far in life. Practice. Look like you know what you’re talking about.

Setting reasonable expectations and having a concise message. Talk about a textbook win-win.

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