Pecha Kucha and Karaoke are the latest trends in PowerPoint
The excuses to use the same old PowerPoint presentations are getting thinner and thinner as innovators come up with new ways to spice up the sometimes stodgy technology.
One, the hard-to-say-but-fun-to-watch Pecha Kucha, is the brainchild of Tokyo-based architects Mark Dytham and Astrid Klein. Pecha Kucha, which is Japanese for “chatter,” limits presenters to using just 20 slides, with just 20 seconds per slide, to get their points across. That's one presentation in six minutes and 40 seconds.
Four presenters at the Professional Convention Management Association annual meeting in Seattle in January gave Pecha Kucha a workout, to somewhat mixed reviews. The session was an experiment to see how people would react to the format, and to see how it felt to the presenters, who had never used the format before.
In the debriefing after the presentations, the presenters talked about how uncomfortable, yet challenging, the format was to work with. One really didn't like it, while the other three thought it was an interesting way to make them cull down their topic to just its key points. The audience mainly was in agreement in saying it wouldn't be appropriate for just any conference situation, but they did envision some applications where it could be a boon:
Have each panelist in a panel discussion use it to get their main points across, prior to breaking into Q&A or roundtable discussions.
Use it for a point-counterpoint discussion.
Use it for promos on the meeting Web site. The audience seemed to agree that it would whet their appetites to hear more about the topics.
Offer six-minute Pecha Kuchas of each of the day's sessions during the opening general session so people can get an idea of both the topics and the presenter's personality/style.
Use it to get through the mundane, but essential, aspects of the meeting, such as the year in review, and the president's address (though the crowd laughed at the idea of telling association leadership they would have to keep their remarks to six minutes).
Exhibitors could offer a recorded Pecha Kucha presentation at their booths or at a pavilion near theentrance so people can drop by and make a quick decision on which booths they really want to go to.
Now They're Just Playing
For those who really want to get out of the PowerPoint box, there's a new game in town called PowerPoint Karaoke. First used just by techies at European conferences to poke fun at the usual corporate way of doing things, PowerPoint karaoke now is making its way into the mainstream, according to an article in The Boston Globe this spring. What it is: People pick up random PowerPoint presentations from the Web or other sources, then try to make sense of them in front of an audience, which also is shouting out suggestions. While it may not be very educational for the audience, presenters likely could learn something about how to use their slides — and, more importantly, how not to — from the way a layperson interprets their presentation.
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