Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Poetry-Slam PowerPoint

From Daniel Pink, a short article on pecha-kucha, an approach to PowerPoint created by two architects in Tokyo. The idea is simple: Use 20 slides. Each one can be displayed for 20 seconds. That's all. Make your point in 6 minutes and 40 seconds, and you're done.

Now, in business settings this isn't always possible. But we've all sat through 40-slide, 1.5 hour presentations that could have been shorter. An explicit goal like the ideal presentation is less than seven minutes long can create an incentive to be as efficient with time and images as possible.

From Pink's article:

Let us now bullet-point our praise for Mark Dytham and Astrid Klein, two Tokyo-based architects who have turned PowerPoint, that fixture of cubicle life, into both art form and competitive sport. Their innovation, dubbed pecha-kucha (Japanese for "chatter"), applies a simple set of rules to presentations: exactly 20 slides displayed for 20 seconds each. That's it. Say what you need to say in six minutes and 40 seconds of exquisitely matched words and images and then sit the hell down. The result, in the hands of masters of the form, combines business meeting and poetry slam to transform corporate cliché into surprisingly compelling beat-the-clock performance art.

It's an intriguing idea, and it's fun to see PowerPoint used as a vehicle for art and performance instead of sedating business audiences into compliance. While there are good reasons that many presentations are longer than this, I do think that almost every presentation has buried within in a short summary designed to persuade that's what you'd show the big boss who walks into the meeting and says, "I have ten minutes. What's up?"

Extract that from your presentation and lead with it, then use the rest to elaborate for the people who want more details, and you might be more able to persuade.

There's more about pecha-kucha in Tokyo, as well as a list of other cities with pecha-kucha nights, here.

1 comment:

Maureen Rogers said...

John - We've all sat through (and probably given) endless PPT presos, so this is very interesting.

My first reaction on hearing about it was to think that it only applies to design-related presos, but now I'm going to think about how the principles can be applied to something wordier (like tech B2B product marketing.)

Readers, by the way, should definitely click through to the Pecha Kucha article - and then to Dan Pink's presentation (YouTube) that uses it.