What could you get across in 400 seconds?

June 2018

Here at Cynergy we are always on the look out for new ways to challenge our event design thinking to keep content fresh and audiences engaged. Both delegates and speakers are well accustomed to a ‘typical’ event/conference style event making it vital to ensure we experiment with ideas ‘outside of the box’ to keep attendance levels high and ensure the best return on investment for our clients. We have recently experimented with PechaKucha style of presentation with a few different clients, which has had hugely positive feedback from both audience members and presenters.

So, you might be thinking what is PechaKucha and where did it come from? It was created by two architects in Tokyo to try and encourage their teams to give more concise presentations, to avoid the boring ‘death by PowerPoint’ scenario. It’s a simple presentation format where the presenter has 20 images, which are shown for only 20 seconds each. The slides advance automatically as the presenters talk along to the images, making is a quick-paced way to present and share work/ideas.

The word PechaKucha, is an onomatopoeic word in Japanese, equivalent to ‘chit-chat’ in English, and so the very name insinuates the informal presentation style, making sessions more conversational, whilst breaking down the barrier between the audience and the presenter. It’s less about having impressive slides with graphs and stats, and more about focussing on the speaker and the words being spoken.

From our experience, this style of presentation has proven to not only improve presentation skills, but also content knowledge for the presenter as they are required to really drill down their key message and make best use of their allocated time. It has also proven to be a great upskilling exercise, even for experienced presenters, as shorter presentations are much more difficult to prepare for.

Woodrow Wilson was famously once asked by a member of his cabinet how long he took to prepare speeches, to which he replied: It depends. If I am to speak for ten minutes, I need a week for preparation. If fifteen minutes, I need three days. If half an hour, I need two days. If an hour, I am ready now.”  This quote couldn’t be more apt for PechaKucha presentations, and so to help speakers prepare we partnered with our sister company, ShinyMind, to offer one-to-one coaching support. This allowed the presenters to have the space to talk through their presentation, delve deep into their key message, and create the most impactful narrative in the restricted time.

PechaKucha really challenges both the audience and speakers to deliver and receive information in a different and powerful way, which is much more memorable than a traditional presentation. The amount of feedback we’ve had from clients after the events saying how well it was received and how much people enjoyed trying something different to the norm has been unbelievable. Many people have since implemented the PechaKucha style presentation into their work, in board meetings, team huddles and many other platforms to speed up the sharing of information and make best use of each other’s precious time.

We’d love to know your thoughts about the PechaKucha style of presenting and how it worked or could work for you and your team. Would this work in your boardroom to speed up the meeting? Could you encourage your team to use this style for team huddles or reviews? Please share your thoughts!