Presentations with panache

| May 20, 2010

Let me preface this by saying I know this is not a new trend, but I think enough people don’t know about it to warrant a posting.

Pecha Kucha. No, it’s not baby talk (I hope I didn’t alienate any Japanese-speaking readers—it’s just a really cute-sounding phrase!) but it does add a new and unexpected twist to the same old boring presentation format.

The fact that I am labeling this a trend, given that it was developed SEVEN YEARS AGO, might make me lose some trend-sniffing street cred but this post is for everyone who didn’t know about it, because you should. Edubloggers in particular seem to just be waking up to the phenomenon.

Here’s how it works. As a presenter, you can only have 20 slides and are allowed to talk for 20 seconds per slide. This means that your entire presentation will last 6 minutes and 40 seconds. The limited time frame keeps speakers moving along and also keeps the audience’s inclination for mind wanderings at bay. The BEST part of the Pecha Kucha is that it turns any presentation into what, I believe, it really should be: a performance. A diligently choreographed, meticulously well put-together performance.

Here’s one of my favorite examples of a Pecha Kucha, (and it’s not just because I think everything Daniel Pink touches turns to gold).

If this style doesn’t do it for you, there are plenty of other techniques you can use (i.e. the “Lessig Method” and of course the similarly paced Ignite Talk which lasts 5 minutes by using 20 slides for 15 seconds per slide). The point: Stop defaulting to the same boring presentation format. You have other options!

So, have you been inspired to liven up an upcoming presentation of yours? Who cares if you’re scheduled to talk for an hour and a half. You’re creative! You can make it work. Think of all the time you’ll have for Q&A! Teachers, are you paying attention, too? This could be a fun assignment to help students learn their communication skillz.

(By the way, it’s pronounced Pe-chak-cha and is a Japanese onomatopoeia for the sound of conversation. Tell me that’s not cute. )