Day 2: Pecha Kucha

I may not be able to say it, but I am now a big fan of this new presentation format that four intrepid presenters tried out as an experiment in which the audience got to take part. (Here are some YouTube examples of the format in action). The facilitator, Joan Eisenstodt of Eisenstodt and Associates, was as much at sea as the rest of us, which made exploring the new format (do not ask me how to pronounce it!) really interesting, IMHO.

The presenters had never used this 20-slides-with-just-20-seconds-per-slide format before, and we in the audience empathized with them as they rushed to get to the end of the slide before the next one came up. In the debriefing after the presentations, the presenters talked about how uncomfortable, yet challenging, the format was to work with. One really didn't like it, while the other three thought it was an interesting way to make them cull down their topic to just its key points. I think it worked best when it was focused very, very narrowly. The guy who was most frustrated by the format bit off a huge chunk of information to try to get across, rather than one or two ideas.

While we pretty much all agreed that it wouldn't work for all situations (and it made one guy in the audience absolutely nuts because one of the presentations in particular was such a tease, and he was frustrated he couldn't get more information), we also agreed that it could be fantastic for some applications.

A few we came up with:

-Have each panelist in a panel discussion use it to get their main points across. Then it could break up into a Q&A to flesh out what they said, or into roundtable discussions (I like the idea of giving each person at the roundtable 20 seconds to recap one point that resonated with them or that they wanted to elaborate on as a way to get the conversation started).

-Use it for a point-counterpoint discussion

-Use it to highlight different aspects of one topic. I like the idea of having one presenter try to evoke the emotion behind the topic, another the facts, another a humorous poke at it, etc. Try to hit people's emotional buttons as well as drop kick some facts at them. I'd love to see this tried, anyway.

-Use it for promos on the Web site. We all agreed that it whet our appetites to hear more about the topics. Why not have presenters do a 6-minute and change quickie on their topic as videocasts online?

-Similarly, one person in the audience had the great idea of having six-minute pecha kuchas of each of the day's sessions during the opening general session so people would get an idea of both the topics and the presenter's personality/style. I love this, and put it down on my evaluation as a suggestion for PCMA to try next year.

-Also could be great for staff retreats, might encourage those who don't usually speak up to get their ideas in.

-And for staff meetings, to keep things on track.

-I think that, if done well with just words and using the slides for visuals that serve as the punchline to the words, this could be a great teambuilding/we're all in this together type of tool (one of the presenters did a funny presentation about the travails of meeting planning, with visuals and words on her slides. With a little more practice, this would be an awesome presentation to kick off a general session. Are you listening, PCMA?)

-Use it to get through the boring stuff you have to do, like the year in review, president's address (though the crowd kind of laughed at the idea of telling the president s/he would have to keep it to six minutes and 20 seconds per slide).

-Exhibitors could use it somehow, either at their booths or, in an idea I thought was brilliant, at a pavillion at or near the entrance that ran continuously so people could drop by and get a quick hit on which booths they really wanted to go to. Also could be perfect for an online tradeshow promotion, or even for virtual tradeshows.

While not everyone was an enamored of the format as I was, the session itself was the most energizing, interesting thing I've gone to so far (barring evening activities, of course). I loved that the audience was really a part of the session, that we were exploring this new format together and deciding where, how, and if we would want to use it ourselves.

PCMA, please, please, I beg of you, do more of these kinds of sessions! Planners need safe places to explore new formats, and this was incredible.

OK, now I think I'm caught up until today, which is good because it's time to get off the laptop and get over to the convention center for more sessions this morning. I'm looking forward to learning how to make my life more Google-licious from James Spellos of Meeting U to start.

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