20 Slides X 20 Seconds Each = Petcha Kutcha

Petcha Kutcha is a new way of presenting for me. With its origins rooted in Japanese minimalism, it takes the viewer on a slideshow of 20 slides, each with a 20 second duration. This is harder than it looks. Couple this with some of my new Steve Job-"Ish" presentation skills, and I realize how much talking I used to do in the past. Daniel Pink writes how Mark Dytham (one of the two brain-children on Petcha Kutcha) actually says the time perimeters actually give the presenters and their work a more "poetic" feel.

My Petcha Kutcha Evolution
A good presentation can be a powerful tool, but finding the right high definition, evocative images takes time. Altogether, the one below took Lisa and I roughly 5 hours to make. The animations, recordings took longer. Looking at any task in these terms, one recoils. As our time is so important, who would want to spend half a day putting together a presentation?

The 'beat the clock' constraints were my worst enemy and best teacher. 

My first presentation felt like the "Gong Show". After rehearsing the below show by myself and with Lisa about 10 times, did we finally achieve as close to "perfection" as we could ever hope. It's the 'beat the clock' constraints which were my worst enemy and best teacher. I was actually cursing the time on the clock when I ran out of time. Actually cursing. Out loud. F-bombs. Eventually, I realized that the problem was not the clock, but my cumbersome, wordy presentation style.

I purposely changed. Instead of trying to cram as much information into the 20 seconds as I could, I tried doing less, especially in the first few slides. I reveled in the pauses. I appreciated getting done talking after 15 seconds and giving myself a breather. One of the commentators on Diigo asked: What if a slide's narration was less than 20 seconds?

Minimalism Focuses on Knowledge of Topic
Last spring, some of my students were working an informal presentation on hominid fossils. I'll share one groups presentation on Homo Erectus. Not bad, they had hyperlinks, bulleted information, and they didn't have large swaths of text copied and pasted from the internet. Their images were pretty sparce save for the first slide. If I do this again, I'd make it mandatory that every slide have a maximum limit of one word per slide. Here's why:

By having so much text on a slide, we condemn kids to reading it. They're bored, and the audience is too. By reading a slide, all they've done is transferred information from the internet over to a slide and even if they've cited it correctly, does it mean that they've really learned it or remixed it in a way that shows a deeper understanding?

This style of presentation definitely is an art form, and may not be suitable for all presenters and topics. But by practicing its style, you hone your understanding of your topic on so many levels.

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