The Art of Pecha Kucha

by Oliver Adria on 13/03/2009

pechakuchaThe Power of restraint

It’s not rare that rules and limitations will spark creativity. Being bound by limits that you cannot cross, one tries to use all the creativity possible within those limits. And it’s sometimes really exciting to witness what comes out of this. Just look at the Webby Awards speeches that are limited to 5 words – some people get very creative, e.g. the fashion site style.com chose the words “Guess we’re still in fashion.” (awesome, I think) or Stephen Colbert with “Me, me, me, me, me!!!” (wouldn’t have expected anything else!). How about the new micro-blogging Twitter culture (or should I call it Twulture?) that limits the messages to 140 characters at a time. Who would have thought that Twitter is now a news source for many people? I have to admit, that I often go to Twitturly (it’s a Twitter tool to find out which links have been posted the most on Twitter) to find out about the most tweeted links and news.

So what’s Pecha Kucha?

That’s what so fascinating about the restraints in Pecha Kucha (Japanese for “chatter”) presentations. The rules are simple: 20 slides and 20 seconds for each slide. This totals to 6 minutes and 40 seconds for each presentation. That’s it. The subject is open, so people will try to get really creative within the limits set by Pecha Kucha. Here is a nice example of how a Pecha Kucha presentation looks like.

Pecha Kucha Nights

This trend has created these so-called Pecha Kucha Nights where a number of people can each have a 6m 40s time slot to show their presentation. Just think about it, in one hour you can – in theory – listen to up to 9 different presentations (provided there are no breaks or interruptions) – that’s 9 different subjects, 9 different viewpoints, how exciting! In a business meeting, after 60 minutes you’ll often be lucky if the first presentation is done.

I guess this restraint is what makes it so exciting and this trend is spreading all over the world – according to their tweets Pecha Kucha Nights are already being held in 180 cities (March 2009). Coincidentally, within a two week time time frame, Pecha Kucha Nights are actually being held in BOTH my hometowns (Cologne, Germany and Jakarta, Indonesia).

In a few days I will visit a Pecha Kucha Night in Cologne and I will tell you of my experiences. If you are interested in joining a Pecha Kucha Night, check out the Pecha Kucha web site to find out if they have one in your area and/or follow their tweets (pechakuchanight) to keep up-to-date with the developments. I reckon, it’s a great place to practice your presentation skills.

More? Read about my Pecha Kucha Night experience (in the audience) here.

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