Preparing a Pecha Kucha: One Pragmatic Approach

How do you go about creating a Pecha Kucha? Well, growing experience with them is teaching us that the process is often quite the opposite of what we usually see when people begin a traditional PowerPoint presentation. Are you among those who start by annotating blank slides with key words and messages and then let the presentation grow from there, hoping the logic will somehow make it work? If so, you’re not alone, and like many if you try and fit this to a Pecha Kucha format you may struggle to match your messages meaningfully across to the 20 x 20 second timed slides. How about trying a different approach? Begin by writing a story. Then match your story across to slides for a much more compelling narrative with visual support. Here’s how.

In preparation for a recent event at which we demonstrated techniques for engaging groups in thinking, learning and working together, we asked one of our favourite clients (thanks Mark!) to help us. We challenged him to create and deliver a Pecha Kucha and he was happy – if a little daunted at first – to oblige. This blog post shares his valuable, pragmatic approach.

Step 1: First determine your key messages – what do you want your audience to think, feel and do as a result of your presentation – and write your story to get your key messages across. (Click here for our blogpost on storytelling.)

Step 2: Practice telling your story aloud and tweak it until it tidily fits into 6 minutes – making sure to breathe, leave pauses, allow time for the audience to absorb what they are hearing and so forth.

Step 3: Once happy with your story, it is time to divide it into 20-second chunks. Literally read and time it out, marking into your script every time 20 seconds passes.

Step 4: Create a table with two columns and twenty rows (for the twenty x 20 second slides you will eventually have). Cut and paste each the 20-second chunks of script into twenty rows of the table. At this point, you may choose to again tweak the text so that it fits more comfortably with the slide breaks.

Step 5: For each 20-second chunk of script, find an image or select one or two key words that best support the content. Enter these into the left hand column of the table.

Step 6: Convert the left hand column of your table into your twenty slides. And, with a little practice, you are ready to go!

Now, a little anecdotal experience… if all of sudden your presenter can’t make it, they may just be able to hand the whole thing over to a trusted colleague! With a timed script ready to go and clearly linked across to the slides, a little time to read and digest was all that was needed for someone else to come to the rescue and do a truly superb job. Pecha Kucha preparation pays!


For more on Pecha Kuchas, see our many earlier blog posts (enter ‘pecha kucha’ in the search box – left column. Here are a couple of our favourites:

Taking the Long Elevator: 13 Tips for Good Pecha Kuchas

The End of Boring: Borrowing, Mashing, Adapting for Facilitators

1 reply
  1. Matt Kaplan
    Matt Kaplan says:

    Here's a FREE way to create your online pecha kucha. Use Knovio ( to upload your PowerPoint and record your video presentation right from your Webcam. No software or video editing experience needed. Check it out!

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