3 Reasons Why Teachers Love PechaKucha

PechaKucha.

Pecha . . . what?

The word comes from a Japanese onomatopoeia, meaning “chitchat.” It’s a presentation style devised by two architects. And it’s making its way into higher education programs across the nation.

Can you get your point across in 6 minutes and 40 seconds? Click To Tweet

I interviewed an expert, Ric Bretschneider, to find out why teachers are joining the PechaKucha craze.

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What is PechaKucha?

Created in 2003 because “architects talk too much,” PechaKucha is all about getting to the point. Each presentation lasts exactly six minutes and 40 seconds, about the same amount of time it takes to check your Instagram feed. The conciseness helps students stay engaged throughout the delivery and forces the presenter to thoughtfully prepare. There’s no time for rambling, useless information, or telling jokes. Every second is precious.

PechaKucha is great for student presentations. The fixed structure forces creativity, as presentations are refined over and over to meet constraints. And great presenters are made through the perfecting process.

A PechaKucha Expert

Ric Bretschneider’s career has largely been focused around making people better presenters. He spent 17 years at Microsoft designing product features for PowerPoint and started the Official PowerPoint Team Blog. He’s also the founder of the PechaKucha San Jose branch.

I asked Ric about what PechaKucha looks like in the classroom. “Teachers love this stuff,” he was quick to say. Why? Ric shared three reasons:

PechaKucha Practice

1. The Rules are Simple

The only real rule in PechaKucha is 20×20: 20 slides for 20 seconds each. The rest of the presentation is left up to the student. Presentations become a type of “beat-the-clock performance art” rather than the bane of students’ existence.

2. No Time for Distractions

Because of the rapid 20 second changes, each slide is significant and must support a portion of the message. This requires students to break down a topic into 20 bits of information.

And students can’t rely on slides to do the presenting for them. “Each slide should have minimal (or no) text,” said Ric. “It acts as a teleprompter, not the student’s presentation.” PechaKucha slides are evocative of the subject, and re-enforce what the presenter is saying without containing much, if any, of the words being said.

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In traditional presentations, students love to play with animations, design, shapes, and transitions: great tools that easily lead to distraction. Because the presentation is built around information and not special features, the format of PechaKucha forces the student to think about the message each slide portrays. They must actually know what they’re talking about. That’s why teachers love that PechaKucha is intellectually engaging for the presenter, as well as the students listening.

3. Practice is Necessary

Gone are the days of throwing a presentation together and reciting a million bullet points from Wikipedia. The constrained format of PechaKucha makes practice imperative. With only six minutes and 40 seconds, students need to iron out the mechanics to get their message across. Ric explained: 

Anybody who really wants to succeed at this will practice because they recognize the forces of constraint. And constraint forces them to be a better presenter.

Have your students practice as much as they can. And then have them practice again. Ric emphasizes that the key in PechaKucha is to rehearse as closely as possible to the actual presentation.

PechaKucha Recording

Ric’s Best Tips for Practicing PechaKucha:

Put Yourself in Front of an Audience

Presenters rarely speak at the same rate that they did while practicing: they either speed up or slow down. Practicing in front of others will tone down the newness of presenting and build confidence in your delivery.

Stand

Being three feet from your audience and being 20 feet away is extensively different. And body language on stage might not come as naturally as you anticipate. Practice standing as you give your presentation to discover how to navigate the stage.

Speak Aloud

When you practice your presentation audibly you’ll discover where you stumble, where your transitions need to be, and where you need to re-work your presentation.

Go Through the Whole Thing

It’s okay to say things differently every time you present. What’s important is knowing the point of each slide. Go through your presentation repeatedly from start to finish to nail the content. If you stumble, make a note of it and keep going. Don’t stop upon making a mistake!

Record Yourself

Video is the secret to self-aware presenters. Recording yourself will help put you in the audience’s position, hearing and seeing yourself as they would. Record, take notes, and revise your presentation.

To really enjoy the full potential of video, why not try a tool that works? GoReact is an online video recording solution designed to communicate feedback in a simple way. Its easy tools—time-coded comments, rubrics, and markers—are sure to enhance any student presentation.

Video is the secret to self-aware PechaKucha presenters. Click To Tweet

PechaKucha isn’t about memorizing a speech. It’s about knowing your subject matter, breaking down information, and practicing until it becomes comfortable. It gets students thinking, learning, and improving. What more could a teacher want?

If you’re interested in implementing PechaKucha to your classroom but unsure where to begin, Ric suggests starting by seeing it. Check out PechaKucha’s website to get inspired by past presentations, frequently asked questions, or an upcoming event near you.

For more tips on developing communication skills, check out Speaking Off the Stage: 7 Communication Tips for the Workplace Communicator.

Free Public Speaking Rubric

Sources
Frequently Asked Questions.” PechaKucha.
Pink. “PechaKucha: Get to the Powerpoint in 20 Slides Then Sit the Hell Down.” Wired.

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