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Pedagogical Uses for PechaKucha


By Mike Howie, Teaching Times Summer Intern

Presentations form an integral part of many classes. However, it can be challenging to prepare presentations that hold students’ attention. Increasingly popular in higher education and other contexts, PechaKucha provides a concise and engaging presentation format, which can address some of the pitfalls of traditional presentations.

Because PechaKucha is a presentation philosophy, users can create PechaKucha presentations with any presentation software, such as Microsoft PowerPoint or Apple Keynote. Presenters narrate slides and emphasize strong images, with little or no text, to give an overview of a topic in an engaging and informal way. Nicknamed “20x20,”PechaKucha relies upon a guideline of 20 slides and 20 seconds narration per slide, resulting in presentations just under seven minutes. That’s long enough to explain a topic, but short enough to hold the audience’s attention. Individuals can also make adaptations to fit individual needs, by increasing or decreasing the number of slides and/or time per slide.  Users can also add videos or music to the presentation. While most PechaKucha presenters have come from creative fields such as art, photography, design, and architecture, due to the reliance upon visual materials, the format can be used to present topics in virtually any field. In a sociology class, for example, an instructor’s presentation might break research down into individual points, while a history instructor might use key historical images to provide a visual historical narrative.

PechaKucha has many uses for instructors. Because it is so short, it is an effective way to introduce new topics to students. PechaKucha can also be used to share teaching techniques and best practices with colleagues. Both of these applications can be done online either through a webinar or by uploading recorded presentations to the Internet. The brevity of PechaKucha presentations usually allows time afterward for other activities. A presenter might hold a question and answer session, allowing the audience to dig deeper into the topic or clarify unclear points. Or, it might be possible to design a follow-up small group activity. The time constraints of PechaKucha allow a presenter to discuss only the main ideas of any given topic. Because it is short and concise, it is not the best choice for presentations that require a great amount of detail.

The PechaKucha format can also be useful for individual and group student presentations. Because the ability to concisely explain a topic requires a deep understanding of the material, PechaKucha can foster more focused learning. Furthermore, the rehearsal required for such presentations can develop self confidence in some students, while also preventing others from speaking too long.

In fact, overly long presentations inspired PechaKucha in the first place, when, in the early 2000’s,  inventors Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dytham Architecture noticed that most people tend to speak too long when giving presentations. PechaKucha has become so popular that it has spawned events called PechaKucha Nights, first in Tokyo in 2003, and now in 500 cities around the world, including Pittsburgh. The 13th Pittsburgh PechaKucha Night, hosted by the Pittsburgh chapters of the American Institute of Architects and the American Institute of Graphic Arts, will be held on Oct. 4, 2012 at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Education Center.  These informal gatherings provide an opportunity to share ideas and presentations in the PechaKucha format.


For more information and examples of PechaKucha presentations, visit www.pecha-kucha.org.

You can also download the following PDF: 9 Steps to PechaKucha Success.



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