Cure for death (by PowerPoint) emerges from Japan

'PechaKucha' format allows 20 slides, 20 seconds for each and and no clicker

PowerPoint in Touch Office

At the next conference you attend, there's a chance one of the presenters will state their intention to do a “PechaKucha” presentation.

Don't pass them a handkerchief when they do it or wonder just how many Pokemon there are these days. Instead, buckle in for a swift ride because PechaKucha is a presentation format that emphasises speed and stops presenters from waffling.

The rules of PechaKucha are simple: you're allowed 20 slides. Each is allowed to be on screen for just 20 seconds and the slides must transition automatically. It's fine to use PowerPoint, but it must be made to behave according to the rules of PechaKucha.

The format was invented in 2003 by architects Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dytham architecture “Because architects talk too much!”

“Give a microphone and some images to an architect - or most creative people for that matter - and they'll go on forever! Give PowerPoint to anyone else and they have the same problem”, says the format's FAQ. The format's name apparently means "the sound of conversation" in Japanese. Anyone can use PechaKucha and it is often used at events where organisers want to give several people a voice in a short time.

PechaKucha has been around for a while, but The Reg has been hearing more and more about it of late. Vendor staffers have recently told us it's sometimes required during internal meetings.

And today at the Canalys Channels Forum in Shanghai, we witnessed it used in anger for the first time.

EMC's Chad Sakac used PechaKucha to good effect. Sakac is an effervescent chap and his presentations don't lack spark or sincerity. Using PechaKucha perhaps gave Sakac's talk a little more discipline and he rattled through his talk at pleasing pace. The format certainly made presentations by Cisco and HP delivered in more conventional modes look a little bloated, even if the 20-minute format they used was billed as being that of the last cool presentation format: TED talks.

The Reg has seen ideas like this emerge before: we'd guess it won't be long before HR departments and managers start advocating or mandating the use of PechaKucha.

Readers may do well to whip up an auto-advancing PowerPoint template sooner rather than later, then springing it on colleagues before - as will doubtless happen - this fad fades. ®

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