Pecha Kucha Boston
By Josh Simons on Apr 11, 2008
Twenty seconds per slide. Twenty slides. Six minutes and forty seconds per presentation. This is the essence of Pecha Kucha, a presentation / performance style that originated in the Tokyo design community in 2003, and which has since spread across the world as a series of Pecha Kucha Nights, most often featuring fourteen speakers per event.
Pecha Kucha Night Boston Volume #4 was held last night at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in Cambridge. The event was free and open to the public. There were seventeen speakers, including several who were visiting from Iran. Talks covered a range of topics including slums, Mayan roadways, Icelandic urban development, aging, and a meditation on the similarities and differences between the garden city of Isfahan and Newark, New Jersey. The presentation styles varied from earnest efforts to speak as quickly as possible in the allotted time, to a Zen-like display of a series of design images accompanied by 5 seconds of description and 15 seconds of silence per slide. The latter worked better than the former and the best speakers presented at a casual rate that matched the cadence of their slides without seeming effort. These were the presentations that you know must have been practiced in advance. And that really seems to be the point: Think about what you want to say, pare it down, and then match visuals to the message. You can't do a good Pecha Kucha presentation with conventional, text-bloated slides.
This was my first Pecha Kucha event and I observed that it worked well as an evening event with low lighting, some nice ambient music as background, liquid refreshments and periodic intermissions for mingling. I would definitely attend future events. I also think this would be a fun session to include in Sun's next internal technology conference, Innovation@Sun 2008.
Pecha Kucha Night Boston Volume #5 will be held in June. See http://www.pecha-kucha.org/ for more information about events in Boston and other cities.