PechaKucha is the Japanese word for “chit-chat.” It has a variety of pronunciations. Put “How do you say PechaKucha?” into Youtube and you will get my drift. I’ve mashed together and delivered three of these babies so far, with another one on the way; due on September 15, 2015.
In this blog post, I will share with you what a PechaKucha is, why I PechaKucha (taking the liberty of calling it a verb), and how how to bring one into this world.
What is a PechaKucha? PechaKucha is a presentation format where a series of speakers show 20 slides and talk on each for 20 seconds. It originated in the Japanese design community as a way to have creative types share their awesome ideas in a crisp and concise manner. From the original event in Tokyo in 2003, it has grown globally to over 800 communities, including my very own town of Prince George, BC, where PG PechaKucha Night Vol. 5 is right around the corner.
Why do I PechaKucha? I have 3 reasons why I dabble in this saucy stuff:
- It’s challenging. Designing and delivering a 6 minute and 40 second presentation is not for the faint of heart, nor the verbose. I can be comfortable on stage and find it difficult sometimes to meet a rigid time budget. I’m learning on how to do this better by using this format.
- It’s social. Several years ago, I stumbled across a discount bin book titled Bowling Alone by Robert D. Putnum. The author explained how the fabric of our communities has been unravel ling for decades and introduces a term he refers to as “Social Capacity.” I’ve been mindful of finding ways to do my part to increase the social capital of my community ever since and a PechaKucha event with its conversation, its learning, and its networking and fellowship is an fabulous way to do this.
- It’s fun. I get that speaking in front of a room full of strangers is not for everyone, the comedian Jerry Seinfeld; after all, once said that most folks would rather be in the casket than delivering the eulogy. However, I get a rush out of cobbling together my ideas and sharing what I’m super-pumped about with others. It’s my dirt cheap, mostly harmless, drug of choice.
How to PechaKucha? Here are my steps to preparing a PechaKucha:
- Generate a topic. Luckily, it’s typical for each event to have a theme. This gives me focus that I can use to pick something to talk about. Once I have a topic, I’ll right it down in a sentence that includes both my general objective (enteratain, educate, inspire, inform, etc.) and specific objective (what do I want the audience to feel, think or do after listening to my talk?)
- Create a slide deck. Next I create a slide deck in MS Powerpoint and automatically set up each slide to advance after 20 seconds.
- Storyboard the message. At the top of each slide, I write a headline title that summaries what I want to say during the 20 seconds that each slide is displayed. I may also label the structural element of the speech that that slide represents, for example: “Body, main point 1: Why make pie? – I’ll give you 2 reasons.” After, I’ll start writing the specific text I might want to say in the notes field at the bottom. I’ll go back and edit this several times as I rehearse and practice the talk.
- Add visuals. If I have a visual that comes to mind, I’ll add it for each slide. If I don’t have one at the ready, I may add a description of what I am looking for. For example:
“<<Insert photo of a airplane>>.”
I strive to use slide presentation software for what it was designed for: displaying horizontally orientated photographs and/or graphic images. As such, I try to minimize text and wholly subscribe to a “no bullet point” school of design.
- Rehearse the timing. I like to get an early start on rehearsing before I put all the visuals together. If you like to procrastinate, this is especially important because many a presenter has devoted nearly all of their time on the slide deck and not nearly enough on preparing for the delivery. Don’t fall for this trap. Also, by rehearsing before the deck is complete, you will find it an iterative process where images are changed and swapped and moved and tinkered with. While more time is needed for this method, I find it leads to a better product and it’s a lot more fun as well.
Now you know pretty much what I know about this invigorating storytelling format. If you have never played around with it, I encourage you to explore it for yourself and maybe make your very own. Or, if presenting is not your cup of tea, go to a PechaKucha Night in your community and get your chit-chat on, strictly as an audience member.
What are your great thoughts or experiences about this presentation format?