Well, this morning I’m licking my wounds after initiating in Pecha Kucha – the rapid-fire presentation style where 20 slides are presented in 20 seconds. I was honored to have been invited by Adam Martin and Kent Lewis to speak and it was truly a learning/growing experience. Social Media Club Lexington and Pecha-Kucha Lexington took over Natasha’s in downtown Lexington and we heard 20×20 presentations from Adam, Kent, Bill Powell (Serif Group), Chris Rice (UK), and pecha-kucha veteran Peter Kageyama (Creative Cities.) Also present were a representative of the ever-growing creative class in Lexington, and it was terrific to catch up with them all.
What I learned from the experience is deceptively simple, and while it’s still fresh, I wanted to pass along some thoughts for anyone else about to try this style of presentation. I found a lot of good posts about Pecha Kucha tips and there is some overlap. But I wanted to offer my perspective on it. Hopefully some pros will chime in during the comments and I can make this a longer list of tips.
Pecha Kucha tips for the newbie:
- Relax - the style is coffee-shop-open-mike-ish. The audience knows it’s hard, and will cut you slack. Come to think of it, it’s a bit similar to poetry-slam.
- Simplify your presentation. Maximum of three points made… probably better to keep it 1-2. Hmmmm. Make that one!
- Choose something you’re passionate about. If it’s work, great. If not, fine. The audience will feel this and it will make things go much more smoothly.
- Don’t build too many dependencies on the visual transitions – this will reduce the stress. But the visual elements can do a lot of communicating for you, so think of it more like a liquid slide that morphs slowly as you’re speaking. Precision timing (ala Lessig) is NOT going to work.
- If you need notes, you’re not ready. This was my mistake. It’s too fast for notes. In addition, if the mic is hand-held (likely) you’ll not be able to shuffle notes with the mic.
- Build in buffer zones in the slides – at 1/3 and 2/3 through the presentation, design in visual buffers that you can coast through and resynchronize.
- Build in pauses on every page. You’ll be tempted to attack each slide as soon as it appears, but this is exhausting for the presenter (and probably the audience) – so minimize the need to perfectly match the screen.
- Go to a Pecha Kucha event (or three) before you present. I found that many on-line presentations were in Japanese – so (unless you speak Japanese) it’s best to show up at a few now before you’re asked to speak at one. You can also pick up tips from presenters that will surely help.
- Float a simple theme throughout the presentation. Here’s where I borked it. The traditional persuasive presentation can be like laying out puzzle pieces on the floor, describing them to the audience, and tying the whole theme together at the end in a single a-ha moment.. There’s no time for this in Pecha Kucha. You don’t get enough time to describe the pieces, and by the end (when you want to tie it together) you’re a tad frazzled.
- Breathe - I think this is underrated. And even after reading it on another post before I presented, I didn’t take it seriously. During rehearsal breathing is not an issue, but on stage, it is.
It’s not easy, but I feel that jumping in and trying these types of things is the fast-track to expanding your skills and pushing your capabilities.
A huge thanks for everyone who was at the event… it was great fun.