What can you do in 400 seconds?

Ok, for those math challenged folks, that is under 7 minutes. No, this is not a dirty joke, it is the underlying thinking behind PechaKucha – a Japanese presentation format design to help story tellers (and those who are not story tellers) get to the point in an impactful and speedy way.

“PechaKucha 20×20 is a simple presentation format where you show 20 images, each for 20 seconds. The images forward automatically and you talk along to the images,” according to www.pecha-kucha.org.

I love this concept. I will be the first to admit that I have built my share of PowerPoint presentations over the years that 1) had too much information on each slide and 2) were just too long. That said, I have noticed that over the past five years, far too many companies seem to have replaced Word documents with PowerPoint presentations as the best way to share information and ideas.

Seriously, I have in my possession client PowerPoints with hundreds, yes hundreds, of words on a SINGLE slide. To protect them I will not share their names, but boy this just does not make sense.

What does make sense is the 20×20 format. I must admit I have not tried it yet, but I plan to give it a good college try.

Recently, a friend of mine was reviewing a presentation I often give and he said I had too many words on my slides. I thought I had done a good job of not having much on the slides. Then he said something brilliant.

“When you are watching ESPN or CNN and the news crawl starts across the bottom of the screen, do you read it or listen to the program?” Well that is an easy one for me to answer.  At least one time every morning, I need to rewind the news to hear what the anchor said because I was too busy reading the news crawl.

He went on to challenge me, “Do you think the audience is listening to what you have to say when you put up a slide with a bunch of words?”

I answered, “No.” I was depressed for a few days, but then I found PechaKucha!

Now I am energized and ready for the challenge. The PechaKucha Challenge:
20 slides,
20 seconds and
one heck of a compelling story.

I’ll let you know how it goes, and if I can convince any of our clients to take the PechaKucha challenge too.

By Mike Neumeier, APR – May 2, 2011

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