Tools: Introducing Pecha Kucha

By Shellie Terry Benson July 31, 2012

GPecha Kuchaiving presentations is hard work. Sitting through them can be even harder. We’ve all played on our smartphones as a speaker drones on for 45 minutes. Enter pecha kucha (pronounced pay-chock-cha), a fast-growing business presentation method that restricts the speaker to just six minutes.

During a pecha kucha presentation (also referred to as 20x20), the speaker shows the audience 20 auto-advancing PowerPoint slides and discusses each one for 20 seconds. The purpose is to swiftly cover the topic, hold the audience’s attention with the images, then, six minutes later, get the heck off the stage.

Sarasota community planner Lisa Nisenson of Nisenson Consulting recently conducted a presentation on urban storm water design in West Palm Beach using the 20x20 style. “I adored it,” she says. “I’ve been through painful sessions where moderators weren’t doing their jobs [in keeping speakers on schedule]. With 20x20, if someone in the lineup is boring, you know that in six minutes they’re done.”

Pecha kucha, which means “chit chat” in Japanese, was developed in 2003 by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham, two European architects based in Tokyo. It grew in popularity as performance art before sparking interest in the business world. Today, meeting planners see it as the ideal format for certain events.

“It allows you to get a lot of speakers in a short amount of time,” says Kate Holgate, who runs Alliance for Success, a speaker and author management business in Sarasota. “It also makes a speaker sharp because it’s timed to an instant of its life. If you get off track, even just a little bit, the whole thing looks ridiculous.”

Sarasota architect Michael Halflants and artist Tim Jaeger have created a variation of pecha kucha by bringing together 10 speakers in creative fields, who present 10 slides for 30 seconds each in a quarterly event called, appropriately, 10x10. Presenters include artists, architects, curators, editors and anthropologists, who discuss what they’re working on or what drives them.

“The 10x10 format allows me to invite people from a wide range of backgrounds,” Halflants says. “And they have five very condensed minutes to present what’s most important. It’s a dynamic performance and inspiring to see the work that others have done.”


Want to try a 20x20-style presentation?

Practice your presentationso you don’t sound like a fast-talking auctioneer.

Plan “speed bump” slideswith simple images that can be displayed for only a few seconds. This can help you recoup lost seconds from other slides.

Use relevant quotesor even single words on slides.

Choose photos that are self-explanatory, or on which you could point an arrow to a specific spot and tell your story.

If you plan to call your presentation by the name “pecha kucha,” consider registering it with, which tracks presentations around the world.

Watch other pecha kucha videos to learn. and!

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