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Pecha Kucha: the art of pitching with a punch

Pecha Kucha night @Mediamatic, Amsterdam. Photo by Sicko Atze van Dijk

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Entrepreneurs have to convince people that their idea is great and unique. It can happen during a lunch, a networking event, in an elevator or during any casual conversation. It is often hard to explain to non-experts how beneficial to the world your idea could be. It is even harder to pitch it without rambling on and quickly loosing the attention of your audience. Originating in Japan, Pecha Cucha is the art of presenting your big idea efficiently in a small amount of time. As is the case with other pitching practices, this would probably help you promote your idea. So, do you think you could pitch your idea in just 6 minutes 40 seconds?

Pecha Kucha is a Japanese expression meaning “chit chat”. This particular art of presenting ideas was first initiated in 2009, during a Tokyo event organized by an architecture and design agency. The idea is now widespread across the globe. Pecha Kucha is also called the 20*20 technic. In this presentation format, you must present your idea within 20 slides and each slide will be automatically set for 20 seconds.

Organizers wanted to encourage groups of designers to quickly show their projects and network with the audience. Why shortly? Because architects talk too much! At least that’s what the organizers of the event said. But no need to pick on just the architects, this is a problem that many entrepreneurs often face.

Why you need Pecha Kucha

As entrepreneurs, you should be able to pitch your idea quickly, clearly and with structure, at any time.
Actually, in any conversation where you are selling your idea, it takes a certain finesse when it comes to convincing people of its value and communicating your passion. Also, never before have we had so many demands placed on our to-do list or the need to be in constant communication. Our attention span is now very limited now, thus ideas should be communicated quickly, if they want to be heard.

Finally, there are plenty of Pecha Kucha events around the world and probably in your own city, which makes for plenty of opportunities to practice and to also start networking.
If a presentation lasts 6 minutes, imagine how many great ideas a potential investor could see in only a single event.  

Before starting your slides

“Think passion, not portfolio“. Said Peter Exley, the organizer of Pecha Kucha nights in Chicago. Keep reminding yourself that the presentation should communicate that particular passion. Also, remember that this is a short auto-run slide presentation, so you would naturally spend more time on it than on the classic presentations that you are used to.

Finally, there are plenty of videos, which can give you an overview of powerful pecha cucha presentations.

Create your presentation

1) Make sure that your speech has structure and stick to the main points. Many practitioners used to write on notecards before actually creating their slides, because it is way easier to organize.
Also, your presentation should be understandable not just for a novice audience, but for an expert one as well. Avoid the trap of the so called “geek speech”.

2) Be visual: you should give preference to images instead of slides that are full of text, since that results in your audience loosing attention. Use metaphoric pictures that reference your main ideas and that will also grab the attention of you audience.

3) Be creative: your presentation should be unique. Consider using pictures but also a storytelling technics as tools. For example, the art of not revealing all at a single glance will hook your audience. You could also introduce a protagonist (why not you) and tell an engaging story. This will involve your potential investors with the characterandyour idea. Finally, try to add some fun. Storytellers know the motto: “A story without humor is not about human beings”.

4) Make really smooth transitions: your slides are atomically set, so your presentation should be easy and pleasant to follow.  

5) Keep practicing: Again and again, until you really master your time management.

▶ Next page: More tips for during the talk and your body language

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