PechaKucha: Public Speaking With a Twist
Spending an evening listening to eight speakers giving Power Point presentations might sound like something to actively avoid, but this month I cleared the diary so I could attend my local PechaKucha. You’d be forgiven for thinking it sounds dry and dull, but actually it is anything but. As with most great ideas the PechaKucha concept is simple. Each speaker chooses twenty slides to talk about and they have twenty seconds per slide. They submit their slides on a loop so that the next slide appears after twenty seconds whether the speaker is ready or not. As a result it is fast, furious and often very funny.
PechaKucha was conceived in Japan in 2003 as a platform for young designers to meet, network and showcase their work. Since then it has become something of a global public speaking phenomenon.
The format lends itself to making any topic interesting and so you find yourself randomly fascinated by each short presentation. Subsequently, I had a great night in a small bar with a friendly crowd, listening to some obscure speeches!
I work with lots of people who liken public speaking as a fate not too far removed from death! PechaKucha makes each speaker expand out of their comfort zone as they are led by their slides in a unique way. This ‘unique way’ makes everyone’s individual personalities shine. This is definitely one of the benefits of the format.
So often, people try and be someone they think they should be, which is inevitably someone they are not, when they are on a stage with a presentation. Yet so often the audience wants to get a sense of the person giving the speech. PechaKucha somehow encourages the speaker to be themselves and so the audience can’t help but warm to them and engages with their presentation.
The other benefit from the PechaKucha format is that it forces the speaker to be concise. This is why I have never heard a boring PechaKucha presentation. It makes the presenter consider what they want to share with the audience and how they want the audience to feel. This seems to be the result even for those presentations that are totally unprepared!
There is lots of advice and guidance and tips and techniques about how to be an effective public speaker. If I were to keep it really simple I would suggest what PechaKucha teaches you. Be yourself, be concise, know your key messages and how you want the audience to feel. You won’t go too far wrong if you adopt these four principles.