Recently I was introduced to a highly peculiar but amazing presentation format called PechaKucha. Like many cool things, it started in Japan. The PechaKucha presentation format is this:
- Exactly 20 slides
- Exactly 20 seconds per presentation (slide transitions are on a timer, so no backing up, taking questions or starting over!)
- Mostly graphic content on each slide
You can see PechaKucha (also called “20x20”) described here, as well as run PechaKucha presentations.
As someone who is frequently on both sides of the podium (either in the audience, or giving a presentation) I immediately saw the appeal of PechaKucha. It forces the speaker to be brutal in their content selection and scoping, and to work out in advance their spoken-word narrative that will accompany the slides. Any and all PechaKucha presentations run just under seven minutes in duration (20 slides times 20 seconds per slide equals 400 seconds, or six and two-thirds minutes).
As an audience member, how many presentations have you sat through that you wish could have been limited to six and two-thirds minutes? As a presenter, have you ever worked with a format that forces you to get to the point and stay on message? Well here you go.
When I first discovered PechaKucha, I had two thoughts relating to project management. The first was this: Use the format for project status reports to cover the essentials, then spend minutes seven through N drilling into whatever details are of interest to the audience.
More broadly PechaKucha embodies in the presentation domain some issues that we so often struggle to define in our project plans. I’m referring to scope management and working within the given constraint(s). In the case of PechaKucha, the presenter must scope their spoken narrative to align with the 20-second duration per slide, for 20 slides. Both the duration and number of allowable slides are hard constraints on the presentation; the presenter adds their value by working within those constraints to maximum effect.
In project management, I find great value in building my plans and running the related conversations with reference to the Project Triangle of Triple-Constraints. I’ve described the Triangle previously (see these posts, for example). Being able to identify, quantify and articulate the constraints under which a project must be executed are essential skills of the project manager.
Hands-on with Project Step by Step
To read more about this blog entry's subjects in the two most recent editions of Tim Johnson's and my Project Step by Step books, see the following cross-references.
The Project Triangle model
- Project 2013 Step by Step: "A Short Course in Project Management," pg. 505
- Project 2010 Step by Step: "A Short Course in Project Management," pg. 431