What is Pecha Kucha ? A review of our Montreal Excellence Exchange Event

WHAT IS A PECHA KUCHA? ( By Michael Bournazian, Eng, ASQ Montreal Chapter 401)

That was my first question when I received an invitation from BSI Canada to attend a free event this past April 11th here in Montreal.

Pecha Kucha is "a presentation methodology in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each (six minutes and 40 seconds in total). The format, which keeps presentations concise and fast-paced, powers multiple-speaker events called PechaKucha Nights". This is the definition taken from the Pecha Kucha Wikipedia page; you can also find more information about Pecha Kucha here.

I think we have all sat through PowerPoint presentations where there were too many slides, or too much text on the slides, or the overall presentation was too long, or the presenter was not that engaging, or worst of all, all these 4 combined. Pecha Kucha seems to help take care of at least 2 of these negatives: the number of slides is set at 20, and the total length of the presentation is set at 6 minutes 40 seconds. I suppose you could still put too much information on a slide, and a presenter's engagement prowess is still in the eyes and ears of the beholder.

The event on April 11th took place in one of the event rooms at the Holiday Inn in downtown Montreal. A good size turnout of about 30+ people was treated to some good food, drink and networking before things got going. There were a number of BSI Canada representatives present, 4 of whom gave their own Pecha Kucha presentations during the evening. They were: Pierre Dovala, Gary Robinson, Robert Harrison and Marc Rougeot. The 5th speaker of the evening was Gilles Chevrier from the company Brenntag.

All presentations were well done, with some presented in French and others in English. Topics included Business Continuity (with emphasis on standards BS 25999 and ISO 22301) and Management Systems 1.0 vs. 2.0 (lite versus heavy).

Some takeaways for me personally were the following:

1) Pecha Kucha seems to be a good vehicle if you want to make short, concise presentation on a narrow subject matter. So for example, if you wanted to explain what contract review is, this method would probably work; if you however wanted to explain the entire ISO 9001 standard in a fair amount of detail, it probably would not.

2) It is best to prepare what you plan to say for each slide, given that each slide is only on the screen for 20 seconds. Most of the speakers did well with this, but there was the odd time when you just knew the speaker wished he could have a few more moments.

3) The final takeaway for me was that I now have the urge to create and present my own Pecha Kucha! Near the end of the evening, the BSI representatives asked the attendees to provide their names and contact details if they would consider giving a Pecha Kucha presentation at a future event. And a good number of people did. BSI is planning the next series of Pecha Kucha events, and the tentative timetable is this Fall 2013.

My overall impressions of both the event and of Pecha Kucha are very positive. I look forward to attending future events and seeing whether I can get it all done in 6:40!

Michael Bournazian, Eng.
ASQ Montreal Chapter 401
Newsletter Editor
Rolls-Royce Canada Ltd.
Supplier Development Leader/Principal Auditor