Pecha Kucha (pronounced pa-cha-chka). Is a presentation format developed by Japanese architects who wanted to show off their work, but who were sick of the same old death-by-PowerPoint presentations.
Basically, a presenter is allowed 20 slides--20 seconds per slide--for a presentation total of 6m:40sec.
At first brush, this sounded like a wonderful idea. It limits the time and presentation space that presenters have in such a way that they have to be highly selective and highly visual in order to be effective. Or they *should* have to be selective, anyway.
Then we saw our first batch of Pecha Kucha presentations at a recent event.
While the concept is still a great one, in practice it fell far short of an effective presentation style.
Why was this?
Well, the presenters treated it like just another presentation--only shorter. This meant that there was the same visual clutter on the PowerPoint slides, the same slide-as-speech mentality, and--worst of all--the limited time did not seem to have an effect on the content focus. Instead of being short, concise and witty--as we envisioned a Pecha Kucha to be--they were meandering and--at some points--a bit schizophrenic in their direction. That, and there was still the ever-present sin of trying to cram as much information as possible into the presentation (only with limited time, you can imagine how well this worked out--talk about overload!).
It goes to show you that just because a presentation is short, does not mean it's engaging. And just because it's reduced in length does not make it concise. The presentations should have been laser-focused, but instead the presenters didn't really know what to do with the format, so they reverted back to presentation-as-usual (only crammed into 6 minutes and 40 seconds).
We're not saying it's their fault--most people are raised in business culture to think of presentations in one way; the way they've always been done and the way they always will be done--damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!
So perhaps we just need to refine the Pecha Kucha in order to make it a more effective presentation tool...
...or perhaps we still need to look at presentations differently. Not as vehicles for information delivery, but as vehicles of communication. More on that later.