Pecha Kucha, or how to avoid boring presentations.
When I was studying Graphic Design, I had a specific subject in presentation design. I have never been bad at speaking in public, so I did not know what to think about a subject dedicated exclusively to this subject. Still, my first staging for the subject was enough to understand why: it is one thing to know how to speak or improvise in informal settings, but… communicating and convincing about your project is another story.
In an entrepreneurial context, having certain expository skills can be very valuable. You cannot reduce everything to the presentation, but of course, knowing how to transmit your proposal correctly will have a lot to do with the final success. There are many situations in which we have to resort to our oral and performing skills to communicate a product, a concept, ideas, present ourselves, our projects, intentions …
When I talk about this, I remember all the presentations, talks, conferences and defenses that I have attended over the last few years. I have soporific memories, others in which only the context remains and not a trace of the objective of the presentation; and some brilliant performance memories that I may never forget. I get an idea from all that: every time we present more, nobody wants to be bored or boring. You have to make convincing presentations.
Let’s look at a – little – great presentation technique.
In 2003, architects Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham realized that sometimes words are unnecessary. Dytham says on the page of his architecture studio in Tokyo, that architects talk too much and that this was the reason for looking for a new model of making presentations.
This new type of presentation was intended to cut to the chase and avoid long exposures that can drain the listener’s attention and lead to ineffective communication.
The point is that this idea crossed the borders of architecture and, according to Pecha Kucha’s official website , “the sessions soon became happenings” and the “Pecha Kucha Nights” began, first in Tokyo and later all over the world. Currently, more than 50,000 people make their Pecha Kucha presentation in the more than 1,100 “Pecha Kucha Nights” that are celebrated each year throughout different cities around the globe. In addition, the format is becoming increasingly popular and extends from the business environment to the academic, to replace long presentations, difficult to digest, by a standardized format that seeks equity and dynamism in environments where the number of workers or students it requires an effective distribution of time.
According to Ernesto del Valle, the etymology of Pecha Kucha, which experts pronounce as pet-shah coot-shah, comes from Japanese, can be written as a single word “pechakucha,” and is an onomatopoeia that represents the sound of a “casual talk.”.
Literally. A Pecha Kucha must narrate through the union of image and word.
The Pecha Kucha has an internationally standardized format and, although aesthetics and content remain in the hands of the person presenting, it has very specific rules:
The main thing that best defines the Pecha Kucha is that the presentation must have 20 slides that automatically pass every 20 seconds. For this reason, these types of presentations are also known as “20 × 20 Presentation”. This means that the exposure can only last 6 minutes and 40 seconds, no more, no less. This is the time that your speech should occupy, in any case, whatever the topic or difficulty.
Regarding the contents, there are some common references. Use large-format images conceptually consistent with your speech, to enhance the rapid assimilation of information. It is allowed to repeat an image on two different slides.
The presentation should be entertaining and run as a story. For this, the slides must appear integrated with the speech and, if they incorporate text , it must be reduced to what is essential: outside explanatory paragraphs, bullets or tables. The tonic should consist of the use of very short and concise sentences, such as headlines or slogans, well organized and consistent with the speech and images.
Another important thing: the presentation is short and fluid, so the pause for questions is for the end.
If you want to get an idea, you have some examples of very inspiring presentations on the Pecha Kucha website.
Contextualized the concept of Pecha Kucha, we are clearer when, how and with what objective the idea arises – in the fight against endless or boring presentations -. But, in case you still haven’t convinced yourself to put it into practice, here is a list of pros:
It is true that, as the saying goes, “each teacher has his booklet”, but some reference keys can serve as a starting point to start with the clearest things. There go four:
We don’t want to close this post without offering you some design guidelines. You can adapt them to your way of working, because the one who is going to face the scene will be you and your own comfort is very important in these cases, but this is what I would do:
The Pecha Kucha formula has spread enormously since its inception in 2003. Not surprisingly, with the features and benefits, we have discussed. It is a simple way to present a topic, equitable, very visual (this can favor a careful aesthetic, which is always appreciated), and effective, which will keep the public’s attention and can help your idea get to where you want it to be.
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