Pecha Kucha, not Ashton Kutcher

Pecha Kucha

Instead of going after celebrities to present at your next conference, highlight some stars amongst your attendees with a Pecha Kucha session!

Pecha Kucha is a dynamic presentation format that has spread globally since its invention in Japan in 2003. Think of it as a haiku for presentations. Twenty slides automatically advance, each shown for twenty seconds, while the presenter shares his or her passion about a topic. Because each presentation lasts just 6 minutes and 40 seconds, presenters are challenged to be concise, targeted, and creative—and you can pack eight attendee presentations into an hour-long conference session.

So, you have a question? You want to know how to pronounce Pecha Kucha? Don’t be embarrassed, everybody asks. Just watch this short YouTube video:

O.K., glad to have cleared that up. You can also incorporate Pecha Kucha into a social event at your conference by scheduling your presentations during an evening social, with food and drink available while the presentations go on. This is the format used at Pecha Kucha Nights, held in hundreds of cities all over the world four or more times a year.

Pecha Kucha set up

It’s pretty easy to set up a Pecha Kucha session. Before the conference, you’ll need to:

  • explain the format to your attendees;
  • promote the session;
  • solicit presenters; and
  • send them a presentation template.

Have them send their presentations to you before the session. On the day, you’ll need an appropriately sized location with presentation-friendly lighting, a wireless mike and sound system, a schedule, and a screen, projector and laptop running PowerPoint or Keynote. Add an MC and a staffer for the laptop and you’re ready to go!

I’m a big fan of Pecha Kucha as a way for people to connect and learn in a fun, fast-paced environment. I’ve just signed a contract to run Brattleboro Pecha Kucha Night, and we’re working on holding a Pecha Kucha session at Event Camp Twin Cities this fall.

Want to learn more? Check out the hundreds of presentations available on the official Pecha Kucha website. (I especially like this one by Daniel Pink on Emotionally Intelligent Signage.) I also recommend you attend a nearby Pecha Kucha Night to experience the format firsthand. You’ll see how Pecha Kucha can liven up any conference.

Have you used or experienced a Pecha Kucha session? How did it work out for you and/or the attendees?

4 thoughts on “Pecha Kucha, not Ashton Kutcher

  1. Adrian:

    I saw this post on another website…BizBash hive …and didn’t realize that it was yours. Anyway, here is the comment I left on the other site that should have been left here.

    I’ve attended a Pecha Kucha experience in the past. It’s an interesting way to share information.

    I would submit that any organziation that wants to run a Pecha Kucha should know that PechaKucha Night is trademarked and that the folks who started Pecha Kucha “licence” events and conferences to use their term and format. I’ve heard of organizations that receive cease and desist letters from the owners for the trademark and format. Here’s the link to learn more about hosting a Pecha Kucha at an event:

    1. As usual you’re right Jeff—thanks for pointing out this requirement. However, based on my conversations with the PK folks, I suspect that the red tape around getting permission to run a PK session at a conference is pretty minimal, though I don’t know this for sure. The agreement I signed to run Brattleboro Pecha Kucha Night is a “handshake” agreement that probably has little or no legal standing. (Not that I’m going to break it.) Anyway, if I end up running a PK session at Event Camp Twin Cities I’ll check out what’s involved in getting permission to use PK at an event and report back.

        1. Steven, here’s the most recent official word on what the Pecha Kucha organizers require for what they call “one-off Pecha Kucha events”. I received this in an email on June 9, 2011. Hope it helps:

          As most of you know, a growing part of the PechaKucha movement over the past couple of years has been the one-off PechaKucha event (PKE). It’s something that we started supporting at first mostly because we had to do something about the demand for these kinds of events, by doing what we could to avoid having unofficial PK events happen everywhere, without your knowledge, and therefore often impacting your own regular PechaKucha Night series. We also simply do not have the resources to properly police the world and “crack down” on any improper use of the name (even though it is trademarked), and we also wanted to avoid having to come off as bullies, which runs counter to the PK spirit of sharing.

          It hasn’t been easy to find the right balance in how to deal with these. As many of you know — meaning organizers that have been contacted about PKEs happening in their cities — we have changed the way we handle them a few times. Our goal has always been to find a way to keep everyone happy, and to try and avoid confusing the audience (in terms of what is a PKE versus a PKN).

          And so this brings us to how we are going to start dealing with PKEs as of now.

          1. We will ask that “PechaKucha” (or any derivative) not be used in the title of the event.
          2. Organizers of these PKEs will be provided with a graphic badge (examples appear at the end of this newsletter) that indicates that the event is “Powered by PechaKucha,” that they will need to include on any material used to publicize the event.
          3. In the case of events that are “for profit,” we will ask that a minimum donation of $200 be made, to help support the PechaKucha network.
          4. We will no longer check in first with local organizers, but instead, you will be CCed on the correspondence for any PKE that will happen in your city.

          On this last point, please realize that the way things have been now is simply unmanageable — on top of the extra time and number of emails it takes to deal with each event, some organizers are sometimes not able to reply right away (or forget to), and it stretches the process even more. There have been VERY FEW cases where an organizer had an issue with an event, and the vast majority end up being simple “go ahead” replies. We do want you to know that even if we reply to a request and start the process rolling, but that you feel there is a serious issue with the request, do tell us and we’ll take the appropriate measures.

          Please note that in the vast majority of cases, these events are held for a very different kind of audience, and for these organizers/groups it’s simply a case of wanting to use the “PechaKucha 20 x 20” format as part of their event because, hey, it’s a great format!

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