The next time you give a presentation, tell your audience you don’t have a PowerPoint®. Tell them you have a Pecha Kucha. That will get their attention!
According to best-selling author
Daniel Pink, who writes on the
changing world of work, Pecha Kucha
has turned PowerPoint into both an
art form and a competitive sport. It’s
become so popular that Pecha Kucha
nights are now hosted regularly in over
200 cities worldwide.
What Is Pecha Kucha?
Pecha Kucha (pronounced “
pe-chak-cha”) is Japanese for “the sound
of conversation,” and refers to a
presentation style invented several years
ago by two Japan-based architects.
Tired of the tedium of typical
PowerPoint presentations, they wanted
to give young designers and others
involved in the creative arts an outlet to
meet, network and show their work in
public in an efficient and engaging way.
How Does it Work?
In the Pecha Kucha style, presenters
speak on 20 slides, each of which is
shown for 20 seconds, for a total presentation time of 6 minutes 40 seconds.
The result is that Pecha Kucha presentations are concise, participants’ interest
levels stay high, and, if appropriate,
multiple presenters can share their ideas
within a short period of time.
Now this “ 20 x 20” format is making
its way into the meeting rooms of
corporate America, including companies
like engineering software developer
Autodesk, which used Pecha Kucha
at its annual sales meeting this year.
In the non-profit sector, the Special
Libraries Association hosted an event
in Washington, D.C., during which
organizations from the National Institutes
of Health to the World Bank discussed
the uses and adoption of Pecha Kucha.
How Does it Differ from PowerPoint?
Sometimes compared to the “10/20/30”
rule in PowerPoint (10 slides, 20
minutes, no type smaller than 30 point),
Pecha Kucha is substantially different
because the slides change automatically every 20 seconds and the format
is designed to work with as few all-text
slides as possible. This forces presenters
to be more focused in their message and
allows the story to flow uninterrupted.
The Power of Pecha Kucha
There are four noteworthy facets of
It makes the presenter concentrate
on essential information. What do
your listeners absolutely need to know
and understand? The format forces
you to stay focused on what’s really
important, with no time for digression.
Slides are programmed to change every
20 seconds, so you have to anticipate
your next slide and ensure that your
narrative is synced to your visual.
It forces you to have a storyline,
a flow that allows your listeners to
quickly and easily grasp your message.
With PowerPoint, speakers often make
the mistake of treating each slide as a
separate and discrete data rather than
part of a larger story.
The benefit of using a presentation
format that relies heavily on imagery
is twofold. It gives you the ability
to transfer emotion, in addition to
information and knowledge. It also
puts the focus more squarely on
you and what you’re saying rather
It supports my mantra of “practice,
practice, practice.” You absolutely
cannot go on stage “cold.” With just
minutes to effectively convey your
message and engage your audience,
rehearsal is essential.
Present like a Samurai by using Pecha
Kucha for your next presentation.
You’ll shake up the status quo, and
perhaps set a new standard that is both
engaging and informative.
Stephanie Scotti (smscotti@ professionallyspeaking.net) is a strategic communication adviser specializing in helping high-stake presenters become
more effective leaders and stronger
communicators. She has more than 25 years
of experience as an executive speech coach
and currently serves as director of
community relations for NSA-NJ. To learn
more, visit professionallyspeaking.net.