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What is a Pecha Kucha Presentation?

School teacher holding a laptop and looking at the screen with a group of seven young students each holding a book surrounding him; they are all smiling.

Pecha Kucha is a presentation method that calls for telling a story using images rather than reading text from slides during a PowerPoint presentation. Pecha Kucha presentations use 20 slides and allow only 20 seconds of commentary per slide. That keeps a total presentation to just 6 minutes and 40 seconds.

Or, put it another way, Pecha Kucha “is what ‘Show and Tell’ always dreamed of becoming,” according to the Pecha Kucha site. It’s also a powerful learning tool for teachers.

At Fresno Pacific University, the Teach With Pecha Kucha Presentations course offers educators the chance to learn this engaging way of creating presentations while earning professional development credits.

“This presentation style was designed to help people tell a story instead of lecturing to others,” said Jim Ave, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Kinesiology at Fresno Pacific University. “This keeps students engaged. It’s another tool to use in class to foster learning.”

How Pecha Kucha Works

As pointed out by Ave, many people fear the “Death by PowerPoint” that can happen during presentations when people simply read the text as they flip through slides. “We’ve all been through presentations that were boring, where the presenter just reads what’s on the PowerPoint,” said Ave.

Pecha Kucha challenges the presenter to better engage the audience. That’s of particular importance when working with school children.

Using a visual-oriented approach, a slide show is created using just 20 slides. Each slide has one primary image and is only shown for 20 seconds, during which the presenter speaks. “The goal is to tell a story, rather than describe a slide,” said Ave.

The term Pecha Kucha means “chit chat” in Japanese. Two owners of an architectural firm—Mark Dytham and Astrid Klein—created Pecha Kucha because they wanted a fast-paced presentation style that emphasized images rather than text.

The presentation style became so popular that it led to the first Pecha Kucha night held in 2003 in Japan. Now, 1,000 cities around the world host Pecha Kucha nights each year. They are informal gatherings where people show their Pecha Kucha presentations on any topic.

In studies involving students where Pecha Kucha was used, students were more engaged in presentations and knew the material better, according to Ave. Students also had higher levels of enjoyment watching Pecha Kucha presentations. Other studies found improved critical thinking skills for students.

Mastering Pecha Kucha for Effective Classroom Engagement

Fresno Pacific University offers the Teach with Pecha Kucha Presentations class to instruct educators on how to use this fast-paced presentation style to better engage students. Educators can take either the 1-unit or 2-unit course.

The -unit course covers three modules:

  • Module 1: Overview of Pecha Kucha presentations and their use in your class.
  • Module 2: Learn how to develop a Pecha Kucha presentation. Teachers record one and do another one live.
  • Module 3: Learn how to use Pecha Kucha presentations in K-12 and university classes, and then develop two lesson plans using Pecha Kucha presentations.

The 2-unit course includes the above three modules as well as Module 4, in which educators further improve their skills with Pecha Kucha presentations. This may include creating a Pecha Kucha presentation that educates fellow teachers on how to use Pecha Kucha.

Ave said examples of using Pecha Kucha presentations include book report summaries, personal applications, historical content such as identifying historical documents and addressing environmental concerns such as the use of plastics.

Teachers also learn to teach students to create Pecha Kucha presentations to demonstrate what they have learned.

“When students are developing and giving Pecha Kucha presentations, they have to convey the most important aspects of the subject/topic,” said Ave. “This teaches students how to analyze what is important and how to quickly and accurately describe a topic.”