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Pecha Kucha presentations with Google Apps: Fast and to the Point

The Pecha Kucha presentation format can be a great way to provide an overview of a topic.

Pecha Kucha presentations consist of 20 slides shown for 20 seconds each. This tends to produce a high-energy, fast-paced presentation. The format forces you to leave out the parts of your presentation that listeners wish you would skip. (Apologies to Elmore Leonard; see his rule #10 in his linked essay.)

Even if a speaker or topic is incredibly boring, you know it will be over in exactly 6 minutes and 40 seconds. If only all meetings could be that way!

Creating a Pecha Kucha presentation

The Pecha Kucha format can be a great way to provide an overview of a topic, or to summarize the key features of a proposed project.

Here's how to create a modified version of the standard Pecha Kucha format with a Google Apps presentation.

1. Create a presentation with 20 slides

I recommend you use the first slide as a title slide to introduce your topic, and the last slide to give people a link to your slides. That leaves you 18 slides to tell your story.

All of the usual presentation design rules apply. Use fonts large enough so that people in the back of the room can easily read your text (typically, I suggest using 24 point fonts at minimum). Focus each slide on one key idea or concept; with only a few seconds per slide, you don't have time to address a massive list of bullet points. Don't read your slides. Use images to illustrate a concept, let your spoken words provide the explanation.

For excellent presentation creation tips, take a look at Garr Reynold's website. I'm also a fan of his book, Presentation Zen.

2. Get a link to the auto-advancing slide presentation

While in the Google Apps presentation editor, go to the File menu and select "Publish to the Web". Change the "Automatically advance presentation to the next slide" setting to "every 15 seconds". I also recommend you change the Presentation Size to Large (1200 x 929), unless you'll be presenting on a particularly low resolution screen. With 20 slides displayed for 15 seconds each, your presentation will last exactly five minutes.

Copy the document link. This is the URL you'll paste into a browser when you're ready to present.

For example, here is the URL to a presentation I created.

3. Shorten the link

For your sake - and the audience's - I suggest you use a URL shortener to create a short link to the presentation.

Go to the Google URL shortner, click your cursor into the long-URL box and click Ctrl-V to paste the long URL into the box. Then click the "shorten URL" button. This will give you a short URL.

4. Get a QR code linked to the presentation

Make it easy for your audience to save the link to the presentation by displaying a QR code link to your presentation on your last slide.

Smartphone users take a photo of a QR code in their QR code reader app, which gives them the link the presentation. No need to type the URL at all. In most cases, people can then view the presentation slides on their smartphone. If people need a QR code reader, I suggest Quickmark, which is available for both Android and iOS.

Google's URL shortener generates QR codes. Simply add a ".qr" to the goo.gl URL: http://goo.gl/PYGKR.qr

Type your goo.gl short URL with the appended .qr code in your browser. You should see the QR code image. Copy the long URL goo.gl generates for this image.

To place the QR code image on a slide in your Google Presentation, go to the Insert menu and select Image. Click on the "by URL" option, then type or paste the URL for the QR code into the box. Click select when done. Resize the QR code as desired by clicking and dragging the corners of the image.

I recommend you include the short URL link at the top of the slide with the QR code, since not everyone has a QR code reader.

5. Give your presentation in full-screen mode

When you're ready to give your presentation, copy your short URL into a browser: the first slide of your presentation should display.

Place your browser in full-screen mode to help the audience focus on your content. On most systems the F11 key enables full-screen mode.

Click the triangular play button in the lower left corner, and then move your cursor away from the controls to the side left. The controls will disappear in a few seconds, and your slides will auto-advance.

Bottom line

Give the modified Pecha Kucha format with Google Apps a try the next time you have to give a brief overview of a topic. You might be surprised how people react. The fast pace and focused content provide a dramatic contrast to many typically dull presentations and reports.

Have you tried the Pecha Kucha format in a meeting? What was your experience?

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About

Andy Wolber helps people understand and leverage technology for social impact. He resides in Ann Arbor, MI with his wife, Liz, and daughter, Katie.

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