Structured Presentations and Pecha Kucha

Hugh MacDonald

Tired of endless presentations and hundred-page of slide decks?

Here is an interesting new idea. A presentation format called pecha kucha, which is pronounced peh-koch-ka. This is a Japanese term referring to the sound of conversation—something akin to "chatter."

It was created by Mark Dytham and Astrid Kline. As described by Wired magazine’s Daniel Pink, Dytham and Astrid began using it in as a concise way for a series of designers to showcase their work. The technique can be applied to most kinds of multi-media presentations.
The concept is simple. Each speaker has to present his or her story using no more than 20 slides, and each slide can be on screen for no more than 20 seconds. When the last slide is over—so is the presentation. This 20x20 format means that no presentation is longer than six minutes and 40 seconds.
Here is Daniel’s article in Wired. It includes a link to his own pecha kucha presentation on YouTube. If you search for "pecha kucha" on YouTube you’ll find other examples of how people are taking to this format all over the globe.

Social and networking groups are sponsoring pecha kucha nights and, in the good weather, are holding them in the open air and under the stars as a fun way for group of people to quickly communicate new products, case studies, good ideas and other information.
I think this has great application in training, planning and in relationship management. As a structured presentation format, it provides focus and brevity. In training workshops and planning meetings, a pecha kucha assignment can be given to breakout groups that report back to a larger group. The challenge—and discipline—of doing so in such a creative but time-limited format will generate energy and inspire innovation. For the facilitator activities are planned better because it is known that feedback sessions are limited to six minutes and 40 seconds.
For the relationship manager, a series of pecha kucha presentations can be helpful in getting groups to quickly and creatively outline their issues, concerns and challenges. It might even vent some of the frustration or tension and direct it into developing a succinct outline of the problem that needs to be solved. Various groups can use the 20x20 format to approach a common issue, challenge or question and, in this way, get everyone’s initial thoughts on the table before analyzing an issue or negotiating or mediating a solution. If there are to be several presenters, it will also ensure that all everyone gets their stories and ideas across quickly. Questions and discussion wait until the stories are told.
At the very least, organizing a pecha kucha event at a staff development, or vendor or client appreciation event is a fun way to provide recognition and celebrate success.
Want to know more? Check out