Pecha Kucha: PowerPoint presentations as performance art!

I’ve spoken with several clients recently about overhauling the format of their annual conferences. More engaging, better presentations are essential to better conference experiences. One obvious route is by offering assistance, coaching and lesson plan feedback to presenters that will help them design and deliver more interactive, hands-on sessions.

Not all presenters, however, are cut out to deliver a session that’s engaging through audience participation and interaction. For these presenters, perhaps traveling the route of a Pecha Kucha-style presentation could be an alternative way to capture the audience’s attention while delivering a highly structured, informative and engaging session… in less than 7 minutes.  

Previously, I’ve written about Ignite-style presentations. Pecha Kucha (pronounced peh-SHAH-keh-SHAH) is similar in that there is a structure that includes a limited number of slides (20) that automatically advance every 20 seconds (Ignite slides advance every 15 seconds).

As Presentation God Scott Schwertly noted in this article:

“Pecha-Kucha allows you to address each frame as a different concept and to start and finish a concept completely. Ignite, however, feels more like an animated movie that you happen to be narrating as the frames fire off in rapid succession.”

Beyond the structure, marketing communications expert Eddie Selover explains how Pecha Kucha-style presentations can transform a boring old presentation into a cultural phenomenon that can engross the audience and bring a community together. If you have have 13 minutes, I highly recommend viewing his entertaining TEDxOrlando talk:

If you have 7 minutes and want to see what a Pecha Kucha-style presentation might look like, check out Chris Dowsett’s short presentation about an experience with his ALS-stricken friend (note the simplicity of the slide deck and the rapid fluency and flow of his presentation):

Personally, I still favor presentations that allow the audience to get involved in the session and discuss transferable lessons. Working with some clients over the past few months I’ve come to realize that not everyone can facilitate a session designed to involve the audience through hands-on activities. That’s ok, but it’s not a license to kill your audience with boredom.

Giving some structure a la Pecha Kucha-style (20 slides, 20 seconds per slide) can keep things moving (there’s no time to dawdle over any one given point!) while giving your audience a presentation experience unlike most other presentations they’ve sat through.

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