What is a Pecha Kucha Presentation?

Perhaps you’ve never heard of a Pecha Kucha presentation. Or maybe you are part of its global community. Maybe you’re looking for alternative presentation styles. Or you want advice on how to master a Pecha Kucha presentation example.

Whatever your thoughts on Pecha Kucha, this article can enlighten you about this fantastic presentation style.

What is Pecha Kucha?

Pecha Kucha is a presentation form of 20 images for 20 seconds. The slides change automatically and the speaker must synchronise their speech with the images. It’s sometimes also called a 20×20 presentation. So the entire presentation always lasts for exactly 6 minutes and 40 seconds.

It started in Tokyo in 2003, designed by architects, Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham. It was soon adopted by fans of alternative presentation styles. Similar to the short-length focus of an elevator pitch, Pecha Kucha relies upon concision and brevity. By applying a limit on the number of slides, the presenter is forced to streamline their content. It also forces the speaker to prepare and practice, as there is no option to go back or skip ahead. Pecha Kucha is also a very visual presentation style. It is based on single powerful images. Striking visuals enhance any presentation. They captivate the audience in a more immediate way than written words.

Pecha Kucha translates as “the sound of conversation” or “chit-chat” in Japanese. Its creators wanted a space to share ideas and messages through presentations. But to avoid the easy trap of rambling speakers, they set time and slide limits. In a similar way to a Haiku poem, Pecha Kucha forces the creator to creatively arrange their message within a strict form. And such creativity often produces amazing results.

So because of its concise style, specific timings and visual focus, Pecha Kucha has flourished in popularity over the last few decades. You can find many a Pecha Kucha presentation example on their website.

What is a Pecha Kucha Night?

Pecha Kucha rapidly expanded from a presentation style to an event. The first Pecha Kucha Night happened in a creative space in Tokyo, hosted by its founders. They wanted creative minds to come together in a fun way to share whatever they had to say. The topics range from holiday photos to political messages, as long as speakers stick to the 20X20 format. There are now 1,149 cities around the world that host Pecha Kucha Nights.

People were globally drawn to the idea for its creativity and inclusivity. Local communities got involved and offered spaces to host Pecha Kucha events. Organisers can make sure that worldwide concept is made specific to their city. A thing called the Handshake Agreement connects Pecha Kucha’s Tokyo HQ with local hosts to keep consistency in form while allowing freedom to adapt to different city cultures.

For example, check out this page about Pecha Kucha Nights in Dundee to get an idea about the community and atmosphere of such events, and a Pecha Kucha presentation example.

Individuals can thrive at Pecha Kucha Nights because it’s a free and open space to share ideas. Whatever thoughts you want to present, you can. And anyone at all can be a presenter. It’s a useful way to receive feedback on your presenting skills and content. Plus it’s a fun and social atmosphere to enjoy. Pecha Kucha Nights present themselves as a ‘real social network’. Not one that is based behind a screen. But one that forces you out into the real world to share real ideas with real people.

How to create a Pecha Kucha Presentation

Choose a topic

The key piece of advice for newbies to Pecha Kucha is to start with a topic you love. Your passion will not only shine through in your choice of alternative presentation styles, but it will motivate you to create and streamline your content. It’s also a great way to think of an original topic. You are individual. So your Pecha Kucha presentation should be too.

Also try to keep your topic simple. If you love it, you might be tempted to speak a lot about it. But Pecha Kucha has a limit for a reason. Simplify your subject at least enough to fit it into 6 minutes and 40 seconds. Give an overview with a clear message. People can always research more about it afterwards. But the point of Pecha Kucha is focus and concision. So keep your topic light.

Be organised

Pecha Kucha’s restricted format requires a lot of discipline. Organisation can help a lot. Create an outline to structure the story of your presentation. And always stick to one point per slide. Once you have an original structure, tweak it. You probably have to edit a lot of your ideas down to fit within the 20X20 format. So streamline your content and focus on the most important points of your message. Don’t distract yourself with what you want to say. Instead, consider your audience. What do they need to hear?

Create a PowerPoint

Simple slides have never been as important as in a Pecha Kucha presentation. Don’t use bullet points. And don’t use facts and figures. Don’t even use text! Just choose a strong and powerful image and speak over the top of it. This is the format for most successful Pecha Kucha presentations. You audience has only 20 seconds to absorb each slide. They don’t want to rush through text or try and understand a slide. They want a striking image that hits them with meaning straight away. That’s what makes a great Pecha Kucha presentation example.

Practice your presentation

Practice is perhaps even more important than usual in a Pecha Kucha presentation. The fast flow and inability to rewind or delay a slide means you must know it by heart. Perhaps you learn your speech word by word. Or maybe you know the message of each slide and speak about it naturally. Either way, you need to be aware of that constantly ticking timer.

It can be tempting to fit as many words as possible into 20 seconds. But don’t fall into that trap. Instead, give yourself enough time between the words. Perhaps your audience will laugh and you will take a small break. You need space to breathe and remember your next point. For more advice on how to make great Pecha Kucha presentations, check out this article.

Finally, give personality and performance through your natural voice, instead of robotically reeling out the information. Alternative presentation styles offer a whole new world. And Pecha Kucha is a space for creativity and fun. This is no typical business presentation!

We also mention Pecha Kucha in our Present Better Article, Give better presentations by harnessing the power of positive psychology.