PechaKucha Presentations

Public speaking is scarier than death for many people, but most of us need to do it. If you’re formally studying anything, you’re probably going to have to make a presentation at some point, right? Presentations that are too low in energy or too long are boring for both you and your audience. Luckily, we have … ぺちゃくちゃ!  ぺちゃくちゃ is Japanese for “chit chat” but it’s also the name of a presentation style that is now used by millions of people all around the globe.

You have 20 slides, with only 20 seconds of talk time for each slide. That’s it! Yes, I’m doing one right now! Research shows that most people can only pay active attention for up to 20 minutes before they need a break or change, so PechaKucha is great.

In 2003, architects Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham started PechaKucha in Tokyo. Their idea was to find a way to force talkative design presenters to be concise (or brief) and also creative. To do this, presenters need fewer words and powerful images that convey (or show) a lot of information.

The PechaKucha Nights event soon became popular, and then it spread outside Japan and into different fields. Schools and businesses today use the PechaKucha method to creatively and effectively engage students and employees.

PechaKucha is ideal for sharing your passion and some basic knowledge about it because the method encourages presenters to create powerful, visually-compelling stories that can move audiences in just a few minutes. This style of presentation is often high-energy and fast-paced.

So is there anything you should know before making your own PechaKucha presentation? Indeed there is. The first thing is to make sure you choose a topic you’re really interested in. When you are passionate about something, it shows in your presentation and the audience will be engaged.

You also have to be sure you have something interesting or unique to say about your topic. This is much more interesting for the audience. Since you don’t have time to explain a lot, decide what is most the important for your audience to remember.

Your talking points and images will revolve around the theme you have chosen. The next step is to create a story board for your 20 slides. You need a few slides at the beginning to be your introduction, and one or two at the end for your conclusion. The middle part contains your main points and sub-points.

Try to tell a story. Just like in a TED talk, the best presentations are often good stories instead of just a bunch of facts. Take the audience on a brief journey. Combine you story with your slides to strengthen your message and give the audience a rich experience. Explain why your topic is important and why they should care about it.

Don’t try to stuff too much into your presentation. Less is definitely more for PechaKucha. Your pace should be relaxed. You shouldn’t need to talk quickly to try to fit everything in. Edit out anything that isn’t absolutely essential to some part of your presentation.

After you plan out your presentation, find powerful, relevant, high-impact images. The images you choose should reinforce your ideas, and ideally should have little or no text on them.  Your audience can only process so much in 20 seconds and the focus should be primarily on you and what you’re saying.

In addition to making sure you have appropriate, high-quality images, make sure that you have permission to use them. Do a creative commons image search to find images you can use, and make sure to cite or give attribution to the person who created the image if required.

Design your slides to flow together well. Sometimes slides can act as reminders to you as to what slide will come next. When you’re presenting and talking over a slide, it certainly helps if you can anticipate what comes next.

PechaKuchas require perfect timing, so you’ll need to practice, practice, practice. You may notice that you talk 30 seconds on one slide and only 10 seconds on another. In a PechaKucha, your slides should change automatically every 20 seconds. You may have to readjust your slides and script accordingly.

For live PechaKuchas, most people use slide software such as Power Point and talk directly to the audience, but of course it’s also possible to pre-record your presentation or just your slides and voice.

And now, you don’t need to have any video or audio recording equipment. You can use PechaKucha Create, which is online software that allows you to simply drag and drop images and record your voice directly onto the platform. You can follow and make connections with other PechaKucha presenters in this network.

Do you want to attend an official PechaKucha event? Find out if there’s one near you by exploring the official website. PechaKucha Nights can have as few as 50 or as many as 5000 attendees. The events are fun! I say that from experience, as I went to one in Tokyo some years ago.

But don’t worry if you want inspiration and can’t attend a live event. You can still explore many presentations from all over the globe through the PechaKucha website. As you’ll see, the presentations are creative, connective, authentic, and memorable.

I hope you now have a good idea about what a PechaKucha presentation is and how to go about planning your own. Perhaps you’re now curious to explore PechaKucha presentations and feel inspired to share your own. Good luck!

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