Pecha Kucha 20x20

By Tom Hausken
Ever wondered why techie presentations are so notoriously bad? You think, am I the only one who's bored or confused? Well, check out this completely new way of doing presentations. I've seen it and it's a breath of fresh air.

First of all, you know what kind of bad presentations I'm talking about, don't you? Presenters who assume you love their narrow topic. They have too much detail. The print is too small. Equations that you can't follow. Monotone voice. Wooden statue posture. A nervous laser pointer flitting across the screen. We're all guilty, and sure, photonics is supposed to be technical. But do so many presentations have to be so bad?

Well, there's a new way of presenting called Pecha Kucha 20x20 . It's very simple. You present 20 slides with 20 seconds each. That's about 7 minutes. During that time, you can't ask questions--questions come after (sorry, Intel employees). You have to get through your main points fast, like an elevator speech.

I've seen it and it gets to the point. It cuts the bull. It's great for those small-ish sessions: internal company meetings, B-to-B briefings, that sort of thing.

It started in Japan as a social event in 2003 as a way for architects and other designers to network without boring everyone. It spread to cities all over the world. The subjects can include anything. There's now also a group called Ignite in the U.S. that is doing kind of the same thing, for fun. Imagine.

Using it as a social scene does sound a bit geeky. After working in the tech industry all day, the last thing you might want to do is to go listen to more Power Point presentations, even if they use 20x20. But, it's kind of the modern equivalent of Toastmasters. Or salons. Or speed dating. That might be fun after all.

Spread the word. Managers, start using 20x20 in your meetings. Salespeople, use it in your sales calls. Engineers, use it in your presentations, and leave the other slides as backup for the Q&A. Don't be afraid to try it. Think Pecha Kucha 20x20.
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