The year 2003 was significant for all those who can’t stand boring lectures. Why? Because Pecha Kucha was developed. In Japanese, this means something like “jumbled chatter.” Admittedly, this is not a promising name for a presentation technique. Why appearances are deceptive is best clarified right away. Instead of giving the presenter a generous time frame, he or she is allowed to show exactly 20 slides. The trick: after 20 seconds, the slide automatically jumps ahead. This can lead to a confused babble – but only if you haven’t practiced well beforehand. In all other cases, Pecha Kucha is the antidote to soporific PowerPoint orgies. Short, crisp and concise. To the point. Entertaining.
The problem of boring presentations
Very few of us give presentations for the fun of it. The speaker always has one goal: to convey information. PowerPoint or similar software is there to support the speaker. But often the opposite is the case. Slides are overloaded with text. This turns the audience into human copiers, desperately trying to transfer the content as accurately as possible onto notepads. To make matters worse, slides are included that offer no added value. If the speaker then gets bogged down in details, it’s hard to pay attention. Even animations and sound effects can’t pull colleagues out of a deep sleep. On the contrary: such “gimmicks” tend to distract from the actual content.
“20×20”: Pecha Kucha briefly explained
A presentation based on the Pecha Kucha principle is subject to strict rules:
- The total length is exactly 20 slides
- Each slide is displayed for exactly 20 seconds 20×20!
- Text is not used or only very rarely. After only 6:40 minutes, the lecture is over.
What are the advantages?
When many people present in meetings, it can drag on quite a bit! With Pecha Kucha, each presentation lasts exactly 6:40 minutes. This is very good for planning meetings. At the same time, the presentations are varied and entertaining. Gone are the days when the audience was “tortured” with long passages of text. But there are also advantages for the speaker himself. Because each slide is only visible for 20 seconds, the speaker has to learn to limit himself to the most important things. However, this is only possible if the subject matter has been well penetrated. If you truly understand content, you can summarize it! Thus, one is forced to acquire a deep understanding.
What are the disadvantages?
Of course, short lectures never go into depth. In 6:40 minutes it is possible to present the most important thoughts and facts about a certain topic. A detailed examination of the matter is not possible. However, this “disadvantage” does not have to be one. Especially as an entertaining introduction to a topic, the Pecha Kucha presentation is well suited.
How to create a presentation a là Pecha Kucha
You are ready to create your first presentation? Everyone has a different approach in this regard. However, the following methodology is recommended …
1. decide on a topic
If you want to do Pecha Kucha as a hobby, you are relatively free in your choice of topics. Particularly well suited are those that allow the integration of images and symbols. Even if you cannot use this presentation technique directly in your job, you will learn to be brief. This will undoubtedly have a positive effect on your “normal” presentations.
At work, the short presentations are used at conferences, for example. They are an excellent way to introduce yourself in an entertaining way. But also factual topics can be touched upon. Pecha Kucha presentations often serve as an impetus for a discussion.
In everyday work, entertaining presentations can be used to explain the progress of work or to give impulses. Endless meetings are a thing of the past.
2. sketch the content
First you should write down the content on a sheet of paper. A mind map can also help. Through this, content-related references can be visualized. It is important to limit yourself to the core ideas. In many cases you will notice that even then some content has to be left out. This first brainstorming session is of enormous importance, because it serves as an important preparation for the actual presentation. The better you prepare, the easier the following steps will be!
3. structure the content
Now divide the content into different sub-headings. It is not true that each idea or each sub-area can only be presented on one slide. On the contrary: You are free to organize the content. It is always a good idea to give important aspects an appropriate place. Only the total amount of 20 slides is unchangeable. So you can safely present a subtopic on several slides. However, keep in mind that the presentation will still have a rounded conclusion.
4. search for suitable images
A typical slide contains either a picture or a symbolic image. There is usually no room for text. Of course, it’s okay to include headings or individual terms. However, you will usually look for graphics for each page that fit well with the corresponding aspect.
5. creation of the Pecha Kucha presentation
In PowerPoint, or a similar program, insert 20 blank slides. Then fill them with the prepared images or content. Then you set the playback so that each slide is automatically displayed for 20 seconds. In PowerPoint, you can do this in the “Transitions” tab. Remove the checkmark “per mouse click” from “Display duration” and set the change to 20 seconds.
Practice is the key
Every presentation should be well practiced. With Pecha Kucha, thorough preparation takes on another dimension. It is also important that the timing is right! If not everything is said after 20 seconds, the presenter is out of luck. Without getting lost, you have to switch to the next slide immediately. Once the presentation has started, you can’t get out of it. From now on: 6:40 minutes of concentration and precise delivery! It’s not uncommon for a Pecha Kucha talk to turn into performance art, because without perfect practice, you’ll have to improvise at some points.
Practice Pecha Kucha
An app that counts out 20×20 seconds is recommended as a practice tool. However, if you don’t like practicing with your phone, you can also sit directly in front of the presentation on your laptop. Before getting serious, you can also invite friends and family to a dress rehearsal. This also has the advantage that you receive direct feedback and can practice your short presentation in an informal environment. During the rehearsal, you will probably also realize where you are still spending too much time.