• Baileigh Allen, ZigZag

Top 3 Ideas Around an Effective PechaKucha Session

Updated: Mar 25, 2019


PechaKucha, the Japanese word for chit chat, is a presentation of 20 slides, each shown for 20 seconds which means the presenter is on the hook for a total time of 6 minutes, 40 seconds.  Slides advance automatically (yes, automatically = yikes!); which forces speakers to be concise/to the point or they fall embarrassingly behind in their presentation.

What Baileigh most enjoyed about the PechaKucha format is that it encourages presenters to get straight to the point – without 30 minutes looming ahead, presenters can hardly fall down a rabbit hole, get long-winded or bore the audience to complete tears which just leads to audience fatigue, wherein they are tweeting or texting or surfing ways not to fall asleep during a conference, on their cell phones.  In other words, the speaker has lost them.

How, then, can you give a killer PechaKucha? 

Tip #1 – ORGANIZE AN OUTLINE - Long before you take center stage, determine your topic of choice and develop a slide-by-slide outline, then proceed from there.  Typically, there is 1 main idea per slide that you might like to share.  But if you don't "do your homework," you'll try to cram in too much information.  The end result is you will speak rapid fire and totally lose your audience.  You only have 20 seconds for each slide, so you have to be selective.  Ruthlessly concise, in fact.

Tip #2 - COMPELLING IMAGES - The best PechaKucha sessions have motivating, inspiring and powerful images. You can find quality, high-resolution photos in a variety of places – unsplash or stockfreeimages, to name a few.  Most of these photos are free and have no copyright restrictions.  They also have searchable databases, so you can find the right picture quickly.  In fact, picking the right images was the hardest part of the PechaKucha, for me at least.  And even Baileigh admits she did have one slide with words – it was a Steve Jobs quote and the slide looked better with the words than without.  Baileigh suggests you be judicious when it comes to words and text – and let your gut lead the way.  Remember you are trying for a moving, inspiring and authentic session and allow your slides to tell the story.  Essentially, big, moving high quality images simply reinforce the point you are making.

Tip #3 - PRACTICE - This format is unforgiving because the slides move ahead whether or not the presenter is ready.  Do not be one of those presenters who fall behind - glancing back at the screen, flailing their arms, and stumbling on their words and not knowing how to get back on track.  Baileigh highly recommends running through your entire presentation a good 10 times.  May seem like a lot – but you do not want to be remembered as the presenter who couldn’t hack.it.  Make it work and rock it!  I also recommend having a few phrases as filler – “are you with me?”, “do you know what I mean?”, “does this make sense?”, etc. – in case you get ahead of yourself.

More than anything, have a good time – relax, breathe and enjoy the process – you won’t regret it.  If you desire specific information about designing your own PechaKucha then please reach out to Baileigh Allen of ZigZag Research at baileigh@zigzagresearch.com  – she is always on the ready to assist with such requests.

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