Present like a samurai — Sharpen your skills with Pecha Kucha

The next time you make a presentation, tell your audience you don’t have a PowerPoint. Tell them you have a Pecha Kucha instead.

What is Pecha Kucha?
Pecha Kucha (pronounced peh-cha ku-cha) is Japanese for “the sound of conversation,” and refers to a presentation style invented several years ago by a couple of architects based in Japan. 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.

What are the rules?
In the Pecha Kucha style, presenters speak to 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. Business presentations are being run the same way – strictly 6 minutes 40 seconds in length, with all discussion and questions held to the end of the presentation.

How is Pecha Kucha different from PowerPoint?
Sometimes compared to the “10/20/30” rule in PowerPoint (10 slides, 20 minutes, no type smaller than 30 points), 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.

Powerful Pecha Kucha takeaways

Here are four facets of Pecha Kucha that I find especially noteworthy:

1. It makes the presenter concentrate on essential information – what do my listeners absolutely need to know and understand? The format forces you to stay focused on what’s really important, with no time for digression. Because slides are programmed to change every 20 seconds, you have to anticipate your next slide and ensure that your narrative is synced to your visual.

2. 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.

3. 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. And it puts the focus more squarely on you and what you’re saying rather than showing.

4. 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.

Consider using Pecha Kucha for your next presentation. You’ll definitely shake up the status quo — and perhaps set a new standard for your organization!

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