echa Kucha is one of those amazing things you suddenly stumble upon and wish you had known about the whole time. I personally came across Pecha Kucha when reading an out-of-date copy of Utne Reader I found in a local tavern one fine evening, and I’m so glad I did. Even though I’m seven years late to the party, it’s good to see it’s still going strong and perhaps even getting better.
The event itself consists of a series of presentations featuring designers, architects, artists and creatives who all utilize the 20×20 format: twenty slides with twenty seconds per slide which adds up to a six-minute & forty-second presentation for each speaker on the bill. This format not only creates a cohesive time frame in terms of presentation length, but the 20 images rule creates a strong need for the chosen visuals to be in perfect alignment with the points being made, giving the presenter a creative challenge normally not associated with the typical Powerpoint presentation.
Pecha Kucha (which is the Japanese term for chatter or chit chat) was created in 2003 by fellow Tokyo based architects Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham in order to provide a simple method for communication between the creative fields themselves. Its DIY concept has since gone completely viral spawning events in Hawaii, Barcelona, Mexico, Detroit and Germany just to name a few.
Although comparisons to TED might come to mind, Pecha Kucha, like their FAQ page states, has a bottom-up model rather than top-down. And obviously its encouragement in creating your own local Pecha Kucha Night is a perfect example of the bottom-up model (if you build it, they will come). The basic formula itself is easily repeatable anywhere. All you really need is a laptop or two, a projector, and a space to perform in and you’re ready to host your very own event.
One thing I’ve really enjoyed from watching the random Pecha Kucha videos online is seeing the actual 20×20 format in action. Six minutes and forty seconds is not that much time after all, and for me, I’m sort of watching the clock, noticing how different people deal with the compilation, display, and presentation of their material within the 20-slide framework.
I should add here that the public domain aspect of the 20×20 format has had good results in the office as well, eliminating those long-winded speeches and run-on sentences as well as tightening up even the most seasoned presenter. So have a look around their site for an event near you. With over 300 cities participating, you’ll most likely find one, but if not, at least you now know how easy it can be to invent one.