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Pecha Kucha Will Change the Way You Think About Presentations

This format of public speaking can you help you convey your creativity while captivating an audience and alleviating anxiety.

If you struggle with public speaking anxiety, getting up in front of a large group of people and talking for an extended period of time can result in intense feelings of stress. What’s more, these feelings of stress can even lead you to stray from your main points, and ramble on. When you are presenting in the workplace, it helps to feel comfortable and competent. Taking a deep breath and leaving adequate time for practice beforehand can help somewhat, but often the presentation format itself creates anxiety, and holds us back from our full potential.

That’s where Pecha Kucha comes in.

What is Pecha Kucha?

Pronounced “Petch-aa Koo-chaa,” Pecha Kucha is a presentation style in which a speaker presents 20 PowerPoint slides, each for 20 seconds, for a total time of six minutes and 40 seconds. Although the phrase Pecha Kucha means “chit chat” or “chatter” in Japanese, these presentations promote the exact opposite — instead of getting lost in a verbose lecture, the art of Pecha Kucha encourages concise language and creativity. Unlike typical PowerPoint slides, a Pecha Kucha only includes images, no text, that move forward automatically. With enough preparation and a focus on the points you’re trying to make, presenting in the Pecha Kucha format can feel more like a conversation and help ease stress and anxiety.

Embrace the straightforward

Mark Dytham and Astrid Klein, the Tokyo-based architects who created the Pecha Kucha format, originally set out with the goal of stopping architects — and all public speakers, really — from talking too much. Research shows that succinct messages are more easily remembered, and if we create presentations that are conversational, rather than speaking in the way that we write, they will enhance audience understanding. When using the Pecha Kucha format, or in any presentation, it’s best to embrace simplicity. Use uncomplicated imagery that reinforces your main ideas and look at your six minutes and 40 seconds as “liberating constraints” rather than feeling like you’re on the clock. The time limit is there to help you, after all, and can keep you from those nervous ramblings.

Channel your creativity

Pecha Kucha is meant to be expressive and innovative. Pecha Kucha “combines business meeting and poetry slam to transform corporate clichè” into a surprisingly compelling artform, Daniel H. Pink of Wired says. With this in mind, look at Pecha Kucha as a way to tell a story rather than a means to an end. The Pecha Kucha format has been used to tell stories about hundreds of topics; from the importance of injecting personality into professional work to encouraging young children to develop a creative voice. Pecha Kucha is a tool to teach others valuable lessons about humanity and humility in an unusual way. Make the most of Pecha Kucha by honing in on what makes your story distinct, and use the creative format to convey your individuality to others. That way, instead of a scary work presentation, it’s simply an opportunity for you to express yourself.

Connect with your audience

As an audience member, it can be difficult to remain attentive when you have no connection with the speaker or aren’t quite sure what he or she is talking about. Pecha Kucha’s straightforward format helps to heighten audience engagement, which takes some of the burden off of you as the speaker. And while preparing slides like this may feel unfamiliar at first, it will help you in the long run — text-heavy slides can lead to cognitive overload and inhibit deeper understanding.

Pecha Kucha not only celebrates creativity but also connects people around the world. If you find yourself anxious about an upcoming presentation, or are simply bored with traditional slides, try this new format to gain a different perspective on public speaking and learn something along the way.

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