Getting to the Point…Pecha Kucha Style

December 10, 2009

If you’re like me and you’ve sat through many long, boring PowerPoint presentations then you’ll be interested to learn about something designed to get long-winded presenters to the point…it is called Pecha Kucha (pronounced pe-chak-cha).

I first learned about Pecha Kucha over at Garr Reynolds’ Presentation Zen blog more than a year ago and was instantly intrigued.  A Pecha Kucha presentation is comprised of 20 slides shown for 20 seconds each or 6:40 total. Pecha Kucha started in Tokyo in 2003 and has now expanded to more than 230 cities around the world.

Pecha Kucha, according to its website, was devised by architects “because architects talk too much.”  Topics are typically creative in nature, but there are no rules about who can present or what they can talk about. Events usually take place in a fun setting such as a bar, restaurant or club.

Last week, I attended my first Pecha Kucha event in Chicago and I was pleasantly surprised. The event took place at a club called Martyr’s and it was packed.

Pecha Kucha topics revolved around architecture and design, but my favorite presentations were the ones that were what I would consider the “here’s what I stand for” presentation. It was obvious that the presenters were challenged by the time limitations, which is fine because it kept everything moving and everyone to the point.

I contemplated leaving during the “beer break,” but was glad I stayed because I met some very interesting people and saw some some very funny, entertaining presentations, including one from a musician named Michael Jackson from Yorkshire.

Here’s an example of a pretty good Pecha Kucha presentation from Kris Krug at the Vancouver event from March of this year:

The highlight of the Chicago event for me had to be the last presentation, which when it was completed, had the audience gasp in collective delight.  It was a presentation about a very interesting project and I was blown away by both the topic and the delivery.  I will share more about this last presentation in an upcoming post.

If you’re intrigued about this very interesting, effective style of communication…check out the Pecha Kucha website.  There might be an event near you.

1 Nadia - Happy Lotus December 10, 2009 at 11:17 am

Hi Tim,

That is so cool. I have never heard about Pecha Kucha before. I do know people who have to give a lot of presentations as part of their jobs and they often tell me the challenges of being able to have the right slides and to be able to give a talk within the required time constraints.

I will definitely check out those two sites that you mentioned. It is always great to learn about new art forms. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with all of us. And I so look forward to the post about that last presentation you mentioned.

Hope all is awesome!

2 Jason of Kim & Jason December 10, 2009 at 1:53 pm

The National Speakers Association experimented with a similar concept at the last convention I went to. The session included about 15 different speakers. It was very interesting to experience. Some were hilarious, others were powerful, others were just bad. It was a really neat way to see a lot of different styles, and it was comforting to know that if there was a speaker I didn’t particularly care for, they’d be off the stage in a few minutes. I found it fascinating that in most cases, 5-6 minutes is plenty of time to tell a story and get an effective message across.
.-= Jason of Kim & Jason´s last post…What I Thought About While Shoveling Snow =-.

3 Tim December 10, 2009 at 5:30 pm

Hi Nadia: I know there are a lot of books out there with advice on how to make PowerPoint presentations better…I’m not sure how many of them address the need to get to the point. But I know our collective attention spans seem to be getting shorter, so Pecha Kucha is a great tool to combat that. I’m glad I was able to introduce you to something new. I’m still very intrigued about this kind of presentation. Have a great day!

Jason: Thanks for sharing the NSA experiment…good to hear about that. I’m a member of Toastmasters here and it has helped me to get to the point since most of the speeches are 5 to 7 minutes. Sure there’s always a lot more I want to say, but I think in more cases than not, the audience appreciates that we can get through it quickly and they’ll reward you with their attention if you do. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

4 Lori December 12, 2009 at 5:54 pm

Hi Tim,

You never cease to amaze me, every time I visit I learn something new! And thanks for giving me the pronunciation of Pecha Kucha. Good move…

You’ve whet my appetite regarding the presentation at the end. Tim, you’re a great story teller: setting the stage, adding some flavor, and then building suspense for the final act/ending.

Best seller (book) or speaker, …anyone, …anyone? I think you have the chops, Tim! Tell me when you’ll be touring in my town – and I’m THERE!!

Oh, and I should add that I love this idea of Pecha Kucha-style presentation. After years in the corporate world, this is a feast to the eyes!

5 Tim December 13, 2009 at 10:08 am

Hi Lori: Thank you for your compliments! I learned something from writing this post – that I need to write a post about the event while it was more fresh in my mind. Also, I learned that Pecha Kucha is one of those words that’s going to be pronounced about 20 different ways. I wish more companies would adopt the Pecha Kucha format, but I realize if your organization gets paid big bucks from a client, they’re going to expect a presentation that goes into more details. I look forward to sharing my interview with the last presenter of the Chicago event…and if it becomes available, I’ll share any video. Have a great weekend!

6 Claudia December 13, 2009 at 4:19 pm

Absolutely! I have sat through millions of boring presentations, I am SO happy to hear that this is now taking enough momentum as to have a name and a conference after it!

7 Tim December 13, 2009 at 11:08 pm

Hi Claudia: I hope that this movement gains some momentum in the corporate world and the rest of the world, too. I’ve been told from one of the performers (more on this at a later time) that Pecha Kucha is a great tool to communicate some basic information which would then lead to further questions from an audience. I think its great. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Have a great week!

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