Get your message across in 6’40” with Pecha-kucha

Pecha-kucha is an unusual method used to create PowerPoint presentations. The rules are simple. You can only create 20 slides, and you have to display each slide for exactly 20 seconds. This gives you 6 minutes and 40 seconds to give your presentation and get your message across (perfect timing for Toastmasters speeches!).

There is an interesting article about Pecha-kucha on Wired Magazine.

I am going to try it for my next presentation and I will let you know how it goes.

Are you wasteful with words?

I heard an interview on the radio this morning in which the interviewee said

?It is obvious that our advertisement offended some people, however sales clearly went up?.

This got me thinking about how often we use superfluous and meaningless words in both our speaking and our writing.

  • It is obvious that?
  • You will see that?
  • You know?
  • And so on and so forth?
  • Each and every single one of you?

Then you can combine the superfluous words ? ?you can obviously see that?

The problem is that they very seldom add value to what you are saying, and they are not always true. In the above case, is it really that obvious? Then there are the obvious filler words ? umm, ahh?clearly you can see how little value they add. If you need space to think when speaking ? just pause and take a breath. It also gives the audience time to catch up.

We tend to use the same filler words in our speeches; they become crutches. This can become very distracting for the audience. To find out how good (or bad) you are, record your next presentation and listen to it afterwards. Even better, transcribe your speech, and you will very quickly become aware of what you are saying.

One of the words that I recently found myself using is ?stuff?. It is a not-descriptive word ? it does not portray any meaning. So now I ask myself the questions ?what stuff?, and I try to find a more meaningful word.

What are your crutch words?

Do you set your audience on fire?

Terry Pratchett, author of the Discworld series, wrote in his novel Jingo

Give a man a fire and he is warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he is warm for life.

One of the problems with motivational speaking is that they are akin to giving a man fire ? the effect of the speech only lasts as long as the fire. But what happens when your speech sets a man on fire? Then the change becomes lasting. Being given fire is good ? it makes you feel nice. Being set on fire can be painful, but the changes are long-lasting.

Mark Brown, the 1996 WCPS, says that in his speeches he tries to touch the head to make you think, to touch the heart to make you feel, and the hands to make you act. I think that Mark sets people on fire.

Here are some of the differences that the audience will feel:

Given Fire
Feel good (but no action)
Motivated (but to do what?)
I (the speaker) achieved in life, so can you (yes, but how?)

Set on Fire
Action plan (today, tomorrow and next week!)
Open up possibility ? new ways of thinking
Challenge paradigms
Feel uncomfortable, challenged

When you speak, do you give your audiences fire, or do you set them on fire?