PechaKucha – An innovative event format for #SMWGla

Have you ever had only one day to spend in a very famous city in the world? What do you do? I personally take a long walk, and try and see as much as I can, without entering any museums or big tourist attraction, just try and grasp the spirit of the city walking through it for hours. Some will take the hop-on-hop-off bus and see the ‘what to see’ stuff. Some other will pick two or three famous attractions and focus their day on them. City-in-a-day tourists have one thing in common: they make the most of that day, and probably they manage to do the same amount of things they would do in three days, just without shopping, drinking, eating in a local restaurant, writing postcards. Ok…relaxing is in that list too.

If you have time, don’t waste time. Although we all do. Raise your hand if you love one-hour long slide presentations. Well, I can’t see you but I somehow guess not many of you did. If you’re given an hour to make a presentation, you would probably put all possible things in it to make it as long as required, too often assuming that length will make up for quality.
But what if you only had 2 minutes 40 seconds to present? Not talking about a pitch here, just about whatever you would present in 30 minutes or 1 hour, but you’re only given 2 minutes and 40 seconds. Think about it.

Last week Tim blogged about presentation skills and public speaking. This week I wanted to introduce a presentation format: PechaKucha. Toby, CEO at Social Media Week, mentioned this very fascinating event format some days ago and made me think of some very nice PechaKucha-style events I attended with my friends at the Glasgow School of Art. And how much I loved them.

For those of you who don’t know, PechaKucha is a presentation methodology in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each, so each presentation doesn’t last longer than 2 minutes and 40 seconds. The format of course keeps the presentation concise and fast-paced, enjoyable to listen to, and the attention span of the audience doesn’t really have time to fade. The PechaKucha I’ve attended were part of PetchaKucha nights, a series of brief presentations around the same topic, but taken from different angles, perspectives, and backgrounds. Fascinating, fun, engaging and, especially, creative.

Creativeness easily explodes when you only have 2:40 to present your concept, idea, design. Like the “City-in-a-day” tourists, if you’re only given a couple of minutes, then you’ll make the most of them. And your creativeness is encouraged, you won’t be able to say much with traditional approaches. It’s a question of getting to the very bottom of what you want to say in a way that others can get it too, and do it in a very limited time. So you will make great use of images, you will detach yourself from the slides, they will be there to show things and support your talk with languages different than words, and you will carefully weigh your words and your sentences, you won’t talk for the sake of talking but for the sake of conveying a clear message. Common sense?

Finally, what I also love about the format is that it brings together people with the same interests, allowing them to network, show their work, exchange ideas. And not necessarily from the same sector. Once I attended a PechaKutcha for lawyers and creatives on copyright issues, for example. Same topic, same format, just very different backgrounds. Different types of creativeness and an opportunity to socialise, share and learn from each other. It sounds very SocialMediaWeek I would say.

Just a suggestion, and a reminder. Event submission is open until 21st of August, please submit your PechaKutcha, er..I mean your event here. We’re loving what we’re seeing and we want to see more and more diverse!

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