Pecha Kucha (or, more formally, Pecha Kucha 20×20) is a style of presentation where each presentation lasts exactly 6 minutes and 40 seconds. The reason for this is that the presentation is made up of 20 slides, each of which is displayed for 20 seconds before automatically moving onto the next. The format originated in 2003 as an efficient way for architects to showcase their designs in a social setting, and since then Pecha Kuchas have spread internationally with social Pecha Kucha Nights held in hundreds of cities around the world (including Sheffield) and Pecha Kucha sessions being held at conferences. In some ways they are like TED Talks because the aim is to be engaging, interesting and informative about a topic in a short amount of time. The key to a good Pecha Kucha presentation is the use of interesting visuals and fluid speaking. As each slide is visible for a fixed 20 seconds, the use of text should be kept to a minimum and striking images should be used instead. This encourages the audience to concentrate on the presenter, with the image helping to maintain interest levels. This video about Pecha Kucha, actually a Pecha Kucha itself, has some useful information about the format and how to get the best from it.
How might I use them with students?
Pecha Kucha is a good way for students to gain presentation experience and develop their skills and confidence because the format emphasises brevity and pace – a large amount of discipline is required to keep to the strictly enforced timings. The short length of each presentation means that 7-8 presentations per hour is possible (provided the switch-over between presenters happens efficiently), however the number of slides per presentation can be adjusted to make each presentation longer or shorter as needed. Pecha Kucha is not going to be appropriate in all situations, but it is worth knowing about, especially as the brief, engaging, and focused presentations work very well as screencasts.
How can I get started?
If you want to try out Pecha Kucha, a Powerpoint template featuring a timer and automatic slide advance is available from here, but the format, with its emphaisis on bold images rather than text, lends itself very well to other presentation software. If you are looking for inspiration, there are thousands of Pecha Kucha presentations on YouTube.