PechaKucha presentation nights are a global phenomenon and have taken place in over 900 cities worldwide. On September 15th it was Manchester’s turn to host a 20×20 event, and BrightCarbon went along for the ride.

The format of a PechaKucha presentation is simple. Speakers have 20 images on their slides, which advance automatically after 20 seconds (hence 20×20). Anyone can present at these nights, so audiences are treated to a whole host of ideas, stories, and perspectives. Seasoned speakers share a stage with first time presenters and the relaxed atmosphere makes for a fun, lighthearted presentation experience.

At the Manchester event, we heard from local artists, graphic designers, photographers, theatre managers, the creators of a community pub, and the founders of a live art battle event. All the speakers had their own style, and there was a lot of variety in the presentations’ content. Despite this, three common threads ran throughout all the presentations we heard.

Storytelling stole the show

The presentations were compelling and intriguing, and this was down to the stories they told. Whether it was how a theatre got started, how a music photographer found her feet at a wrestling match, or how an entire pub was built by volunteers, each story was personal and engaging.

As an audience, we felt like we were being taken on a journey as each presenter told us about their experiences. Stories are something you can use in your own presentations, even if

Visuals are your friend

The format of PechaKucha puts a lot of emphasis on the visual side of presentations, as each presenter has to carefully curate 20 images through which to tell their story. The images provided structure and support to each of the presenters, whether they were reading from notes, speaking from memory, or took a more off the cuff approach.

Visuals illustrated the ideas that speakers were talking about in a really clear way. The images also acted as a prompt for speakers without notes, reminding them what came next in the story. In this way, visuals take a bit of pressure off of the presenter, enabling them to relax and present more confidently.

Timing is everything

The PechaKucha 20×20 format makes it impossible to control the pace of a presentation. While this can make for entertaining and concise presentations, it can stress out the presenter if they talk for too long or have to take awkward pauses while they wait for the next image to load.

All of the presenters took the challenge in their stride, but if you’re presenting without these arbitrary limitations it’s best to avoid automatic slide timings. Use as many clicks as you need to pace the content on your slides, so you don’t have to rush to keep up with quick animations or twiddle your thumbs while you wait for a slide transition.

Storytelling, visuals, and timing are three themes which are fundamental to the presentation theory which we at BrightCarbon use as a foundation for all the work we do. Check out our resources and blog archive for more tips on presentation theory. And if you’re in need of presentation inspiration, definitely check out your nearest PechaKucha event. Or, watch recorded presentations from all over the world on their website.

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Sandy Rushton

Senior consultant

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  1. Image of Philippa Leguen de Lacroix Philippa Leguen de Lacroix says:

    Pecha Kucha is such a great concept!
    More visual presentations like Pecha Kucha with storytelling is such an important habit to get into for longer larger presentations too!

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