Getting to the point


You knew it was going to happen again, you were asked to give a presentation and you couldn't come up with a good excuse not to. As the deadline approaches you keep finding ways to avoid it, but finally you can not escape. You sit down and face a blank screen with no ideas on what structure to create. Many people take improv classes to help with public speaking, and for good reason. The lessons learned in telling a story in a scene can be applied directly to presentations.

Clearly communicating your story is as much about what you don't say as what you do.  Japanese architects created a specific form of presentation for public showings of their work called Pecha Kucha.

Pecha Kucha

Pronounced in three syllables like "pe-chak-cha", is a presentation format in which... a presenter shows 20 images for 20 seconds apiece, for a total time of 6 minutes, 40 seconds.


Here is an example of what a Pecha Kucha presentation is on you tube.  It has an additional two slides as an introduction to the format - and then a full presentation on signs.

This presentation in the video contains an meta message that can be useful.  Emotions are engaging. Careful use of emotion can help your audience connect with the message. This is what I was doing at the beginning of the article.

I love this structure, the constraints give you structure to stay in and unlocks the creative blocks. This is the same mechanism that games such as the Alphabet Game work. Distract your mind with the "rules" and let the ideas flow.

You have 20 slides, and 20 seconds to fill - so you message on each one has to be tight. This helps you distill the idea down to its essence. The audience gets only the most important information.

So, the next time you have to do a presentation, try a Pecha Kucha.