Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Pecha Kucha for professional presentations - Do's and Don'ts

I've seen a lot of Pecha Kucha presentations recently and I'm developing opinions on what makes a good one work in a library/IT conference context. The format requires a powerpoint presentation that features 20 slides, each one a single picture, that automatically moves onto the next slide after 20 seconds. Here are my personal do's and don'ts:

Do's:
  • Use abstract pictures rather than diagrams. You shouldn't try and get into too much detail. A picture that illustrates a concept or an approach is better suited to PK and can help prevent you getting bogged down in detail.
  • Use pictures you took yourself where possible - these are much more personal than using polished stock photography or trawling Flickr.
  • Practise it first! Timing is so important to Pecha Kucha.


Don'ts:
  • Put text on your slides. People won't read them properly in 20 seconds and it'll only distract them from your talking.
  • Cram too much in. Be realistic! It's a short slot. Cram too much in and people will be less likely to remember anything. Better to give them a few key things to take away and communicate those clearly.


Conclusion:
You're telling a story in 6 minutes or so, illustrated with pictures. I think it's best to treat this format as completely distinct from a normal presentation. The best Pecha Kucha's I've seen don't look anything like a traditional 20 minute conference talk but others feel like a standard presentation squeezed into a space that doesn't really fit.

PK's are refreshing to watch and will reward the time put into them. I like the punchier and concise format but I think we should try and keep the format closer to the ideology that it was originally born with; with the emphasis on pictures and storytelling.

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