Pecha-what? iModerate’s foray into the art of Japanese chit-chat

Pecha-what? iModerate’s foray into the art of Japanese chit-chat


Feb 04, 2013

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When I heard our client and qualitative services teams were gearing up for the first installment of a year-long public speaking initiative and the format was Pecha Kucha, it’s fair to say I was intrigued.  If you’re not familiar with Pecha Kucha (I’ll admit that I wasn’t), its name comes from the Japanese term for the sound of “chit chat” and is a presentation style with two simple rules:  you present 20 slides and speak for only 20 seconds about each. Needless to say, Pecha Kucha keeps presentations concise and moving very quickly. And, because a Pecha Kucha is meant to be a personal story or vignette—a topic about which you feel passionate and can easily discuss—they’re fascinating and a lot of fun to watch.

Over the course of an hour, we learned a lot about interesting (and random) aspects of our iModerate colleagues’ lives: their travel preferences, global adventures and dream destinations. We heard about the trials and tribulations of shopping for the ideal, single serve Latte machine, learned about a colleague’s foray into an online magazine, laughed through a review of 2012 pop culture and got a good reminder of all the cool things to do right here in our Colorado backyards.  And the final presentation covered the fascinating topic of fake vs. real cheese in queso. Yep, that’s right—you speak about whatever you’re passionate about!

But the purpose of the exercise wasn’t to entertain (though that was a great byproduct) and I was curious to hear everyone’s thoughts.

Here were the team’s take aways…

  • Most of us tend to tell stories with too much information and “fluff”.
  • This style helps the presenter stay focused and moving.If you can’t find something interesting to say for 20 seconds you have to question the importance and impact of the slide.
  • Presentations are often much slower than they have to be. In the book Clients for Life, the author talks about how people speak 200-250 words per minute but that we can digest 300-500 words per minute. A little pep in our step  can keep the audience from getting impatient and bored.
  • Practice makes perfect. Dwindling a presentation down to 20×20 takes serious work. You can’t be lazy about your preparation and be successful.
  • Good presenters work hard to focus their audience. This style narrows the scope for everyone in the room and ensures they come away with only vital information.
  • Pecha Kucha brings the art of word choice back into the presenting game. When less is more, choosing the right words, the ones with the most impact, is crucial in getting the message across in a truly powerful and engaging way.
  • It’s important to find something to relate to in every presentation. Something fun, something passionate, something important. The presenter’s passion and enthusiasm impacts the audience tremendously.

At the end of the day, the consensus was that this was a surprisingly challenging—but fun–exercise which provided a lot of insight into one’s personal presentation tendencies.  It made the team re-think what’s important in a presentation and what makes a good presenter (always a good thing). So will all our reports from here on out be delivered Pecha Kucha style? I doubt it. But the lessons we learned from the art of chit chat will certainly help guide us moving forward.

Have you ever tried a Pecha Kucha?  What were your main takeaways?  Let us know!

iModerate allowed us to not only connect with this hard-to-reach audience but to get a deeper understanding of their feelings on the subject of public service. iModerate promised at the outset to expand and clarify the quantitative findings in a way traditional online survey research has previously been unable to, and they delivered on this claim. As a result, we were able to expose the emotions shaping the perceptions of the class of 9/11.

Marc Porter Magee, Partnership for Public Service