PechaKucha: The Art of Doing a Presentation in 6 Minutes and 40 Seconds

Earth moves at a constant speed and it always takes 365 day to go around the Sun. However, we live our lives faster and faster every day — speed-dating, speed-mentoring, same day delivery, skipping ads… We need everything fast; we need everything now. Time has become one of the most valuable commodities.

Some years ago, two architects from Tokio decided to address this need. What could they do in order to see as many presentations from young designers as possible while giving them a chance to successfully present their projects in as little time as possible? Astrid and Mark established a presentation model that all participants would have to respect. That’s how they developed the PechaKucha format.

Un hombre presenta su proyecto delante de público.

What is the PechaKucha method?

Participants must make their presentation using 20 slides —no more, no less— and they must take 20 seconds per slide to comment on them, for a total of 6 minutes and 40 seconds. These two rules bring dynamism and make sure that the chosen ideas are really the ones that matter the most. However, if you want to make your presentation with PechaKucha, you must follow some more international standards:

  • Automatic Slide Change | Slides must be set to automatically change every 20 seconds.
  • Text | Only what’s essential. Paragraphs and lists should be avoided.
  • Images |The advice is: Use simple and big images that represent the concept.
  • Distribution | You have 20 seconds per slide, but you can expand a concept throughout different slides.
  • Tone | The name Pecha Kucha imitates the sound associated with casual talks in japanese culture. So, I guess you can imagine what the tone should be.

Why choose a PechaKucha presentation?

There are several studies on the audience attention curve that state that, after 10 minutes, people stop paying attention and start thinking of other things. One of the main benefits of this type of presentation is that it keeps the audience’s attention up, since it doesn’t give them much time to lose it!

This format forces us to be concise and do our best in order to select what really matters. We make sure that audiences are left with the essential. It’s also a learning process, since it forces us to ditch unnecessary parts of our propositions and focus on the fundamentals.

Finally, a PechaKucha presentation is the perfect choice to fight stage fright. Focusing on the format and the time can spark confidence in everyone who needs some.

Steps to creating your PechaKucha presentation

Now that you know the rules and benefits, it’s time to get started. Here’s a guide that will help you to successfully elaborate your presentation:

  1. Define the most important idea | Think about what you want to communicate and what’s the goal of your presentation so that you can extract the main idea. Then, sum it up in one short line. Now, everything you come up with should be built around that one line.
  2. Split it up into sections | Extract the main concepts and divide them into sections, bearing in mind that they will have to be a multiple of 20. For example, if you come up with five concepts (20/5=4), you will have four slides for each one.
  3. Find a common thread and follow it | Once you have your idea and all the concepts, build a narrative that allows you to connect them without taking big leaps.
  4. Mind the silences | What you will say during those six minutes and forty seconds is as important as what you won’t say. Silences can help you stress importance or highlight something at any moment.
  5. Rehearse | Put your speech to the test. Listen to yourself. Listen to how it all sounds. You have six minutes to impress the audience so that they will buy your idea. Be concise with the more complex ideas and make simpler ideas more interesting.
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PechaKucha makes it possible for more than 10 speakers to make their presentations without anyone in the audience falling asleep in the process. So, why don’t you try it in your office or school? Now you know how. Now you have a new tool to impress your investors or bosses!

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