Pecha Kucha is a term I learned a couple of years ago while attending the New York State Communication Association (NYSCA) conference in upstate New York. I was so intrigued by this Japanese short form of presenting that I challenged myself to create a Pecha Kucha for last year’s conference.
Simply defined, Pecha Kucha is the “art of concise presentations,” in which the author tells a story in 20 slides, shown for 20 seconds each. The presenter can provide narration for each slide as it appears, but must keep the description to 20 seconds or be out of sync with the slides, which are timed to change automatically.
This is truly difficult to do. My NYSCA colleagues sometimes struggle to keep the timing right. They are the same people who have to “write tight” and teach “tight” writing. And don’t we all write—and read—in brief bursts of information and words? We gravitate to short stories, bulleted headlines, Facebook posts and Twitter messages limiting us to 140 characters. All are exercises in saying as much as you can using few words as possible.
We also love “tight” photo expression. Visual imagery with short captions have propelled Instagram, Pinterest and other platforms. The need for speed and quickly-read access to information has changed the way we learn about our world—and has, subsequently, also changed the public relations profession dramatically.
Most of these written expressions are free-form and less structured than a Pecha Kucha presentation. While space might limit the number of words and characters we use in our current platforms, we usually have time to think about what we want to write (although many of us don’t—we just write and post.) It’s one thing to be able to present an idea or a story using a picture and just a few words, but it becomes far more challenging when you have three parameters to work within: words, pictures and time.
If we’re all learning as PR practitioners to “write tighter,” I wonder how many of us would be willing to challenge ourselves to create Pecha Kucha presentation. Your thoughts?