12/12/10

things you can learn in 20 seconds

last week, i had the honor of giving my first Pecha Kucha presentation and if you've been reading all the posts in chronological order, you know a Pecha Kucha presentation contains 20 slides, each shown for only 20 seconds.

the presentation went really well, thanks for asking. i rank it second to my best man speech at Bill & Lydia's wedding. (remember when the band member dropped the guitar right in the middle of it? so perfectly timed...) it even received a way-too-nice write-up from melissa harris at the Chicago Tribune.

but before moving on to the video, i thought it would be helpful to pass on a few lessons i learned, should you ever be talked into doing one yourself:

1) 20 seconds in Pecha Kucha time is much faster than 20 seconds in real time. it's even worse if you try to say "uh" 2-3 times per sentence, as i do. my recommendation is to write for 15-17 seconds. and practice out loud. in my head, the timing was perfect. out loud, my 6:40 presentation was coming in at around 7:10.

2) sometimes, #1 is not true at all. there will be at least 3-4 slides where you'll get through your copy before the slides turn. almost guaranteed, you'll be nervous and read too quickly. the seconds you're waiting for a slide to turn can crush the momentum you've built. keep some transitions in mind. or pick on someone in the audience. whatever passes the time.

3) it's a visual medium. the part that will make you most nervous is planning what you'll say, but you can take a lot of pressure off yourself by using your visuals to lead your story and letting your voice accentuate the visuals. take a look at the video - i'm not a small man, and yet the slides are still dominant.

4) your audience is ahead of you. people will read/look at your visuals and react long before you have a chance to explain them. you know how it is: the minute you pass out a presentation deck, your audience stops listening to you and starts flipping through it. same rule applies here - as soon as that visual is up on screen, the gig is up.

5) don't make your audience laugh. that's the one regret i have. i really think if people enjoyed the presentation less, my timings would've been even better and i wouldn't have missed any points.

oh well - next time. thanks Peter + Thorsten for the evening, and AG for the slides. enjoy.

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