Developed by architects in Tokyo in 2003, Pecha Kucha (Japanese for ‘chit chat’) is a simple presentation format where 20 slides or images are shown for 20 seconds each and advance automatically to create fun, informal presentations that lasts six minutes and 40 seconds.
Since that first Pecha Kucha (also known as 20×20) night in Tokyo, these gathering have become a creative platform enjoyed in bars, lounges, clubs, and galleries around the world.
Those of us in the presentation design industry may have some experience with the 20×20 format, but there are some great things we can learn from watching Pecha Kucha presentations.
The key takeaway is the importance of being concise and to the point. Running through 20 slides in under seven minutes forces presenters to convey ideas succinctly while the auto-forwarding of slides means presenters must be definitive in their explanations as there is no going back or skipping slides.
Considering you have less than seven minutes to present, it’s crucial to pick a simple topic that can comfortably be explained within that timeframe. Really, you should be able to boil your presentation down to a single sentence and then elaborate as you go plan for it.
Once you have this single-sentence topic, it’s time to set out an outline – again, try to keep it concise. It’s okay to start with a lot detail and ideas, but the trick is to whittle your outline down to the bare necessities so that you can get your message across effectively.
With outline in hand, you’re ready to create your slideshow. The true spirit of Pecha Kucha is to keep on-screen text to a minimum, so try to find (or create) relevant imagery – whether it be photographs, infographics, or tables. This is also the best opportunity to work out the sequencing of your slides so your message builds to a satisfying conclusion.
Now it’s simply a matter of practice, practice, practice…
Animation? Slide transitions? These can seem like great additional features, but remember that 20 seconds a slide doesn’t leave a lot of time for the audience to soak up the content of your slide, or give you a great deal of time to explain. Remember, there is beauty in simplicity and it’s always better to do one thing brilliantly than several things at sub-par level.
Pecha Kucha events are a great way to practice design and presentation in a fun and inviting environment. They’re also a great way to engage staff or clients in an informal yet informative manner. It offers you (and your team) the potential to put expertise on display, flex presentation design skills, and become more confident in public speaking.
While you can read up about the best way to prepare a presentation for an audience, you won’t really know what works best for you until you take the stage. Also, because of the rapid-fire nature of Pecha Kucha, you can also watch how other presenter tackle their subjects and whether their approach has more to offer your style.