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Designing Presentations with PechaKucha: Keeping Your Audience Engaged

Designing Presentations with PechaKucha: Keeping Your Audience Engaged

Posted by Brittany DiMarco on Feb 21, 2018 2:00:00 PM
Brittany DiMarco

We've all sat through boring presentations, fighting to keep our eyes open and pretending to maintain interest, while all we are really thinking about is when it will end. PechaKucha is a presentation style which seeks to resolve that. This technique involves detailed design guidelines, and allows up to twenty slides to be shown for a maximum of twenty seconds each, keeping presentations concise, fast paced and interesting. It allows speakers to convey their main ideas in just 6 minutes and 40 seconds.

The History of PechaKucha

PechaKucha is Japanese for “chit-chat”. Japanese Architects Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham recognized the need for a more effective presentation format that would change the way they are delivered to an audience. They believed this new format would help maintain interest and improve retention for the viewers.

What’s Wrong With Traditional PowerPoint Methods?

Traditional PowerPoint methods often involve the use of bulleted lists and lots of text. The resulting presentations are unimpressive and boring. Slides are overloaded unnecessary elements. PowerPoint offers so many design options that users feel the need to take advantage of it all. Many presentations have too many random transitions and animations, use a myriad of different fonts, overuse bulleted lists, misuse color, are oversaturated with text and have limited photos and charts.

PechaKucha, in fact, follows many design principles that are regularly used by graphic and web designers daily. 

PechaKucha and Design

PechaKucha and designers use the simple approach, less-is-more. They both require less text and lists, fewer fonts, focused and relevant images and charts, minimal transitions and animations and well thought out color choice. 

Follow these tips for your next presentation:

  1. Be sure to keep the use of transitions and animations limited and subtle. Using a simple fade transitions will move the presentation along seamlessly rather than take away from it. Pecha Kucha Presentation Slide Transitions
  2. Use charts and graphs for data as an alternative to text. This will deliver a clear and concise point rather than cramming the page with text, making your point hard to follow. Remember, poorly designed slides contain too much text, too many bullet points, and no images/visuals as well as irrelevant animations which turn exciting and engaging facts into boring lists of words and numbers.

Pecha Kucha Presentation Slide Graphs

  1. Context matters! There are times that you can’t get around the need to incorporate text. If you have a lot of text, try to use only a few words per slide with relevant images and visuals that represent the terminology and concepts appropriately.
Pecha Kucha Presentation Context
  1. Design elements such as color, lines, shapes, and proper compositions invite the audience's brain to engage. When an individual is engaged, there is a better chance that they will retain the information that you are trying to impart. Using visuals that tell a story will improve this concept.

    Using the right colors evokes emotion which will persuade and motivate during a presentation. Studies show that color use increases interest and improves comprehension. Cool colors work best in the background, while warm colors work best in the foreground.

Pecha Kucha Presentation Design Elements

  1. Use of audio and video in your presentations (with caution). Although welcomed, you must use caution as the more this technique is used, the higher the risk of technical difficulties, such as playback failure, which can lead to the loss of important content during your presentation.
  1. Did you know that fonts communicate subtle messages about the subject matter? You wouldn't use a plain, boring, sans-serif font, such as Arial, on a wedding invitation. You'd go with a more calligraphic font because that's what suits the occasion. Choose 2 or 3 fonts deliberately and use the same ones throughout your entire presentation. Also, be sure to use fonts that are designed for large displays and better readability.

Pecha Kucha Presentation Slide Fonts

And Remember…

PowerPoint presentations are NOT speaker notes. Reading directly from the slide during a presentation is unprofessional and makes it appear as if the speaker is unprepared. In addition, presentation delivery is less effective because you lose eye contact with your audience when reading from the slides.

Don't forget that even the best presentation will be meaningless without a good speech. So be sure to rehearse and know your content well. Slides are meant to support the speaker, not the other way around.

There you have it! Master the PechaKucha method and the audience will thank you for being clear, concise, and focused!

One way to become a pro in strategies such as PechaKucha, is to take design courses, which will help you understand how to skillfully choose fonts, colors, images, layouts and much more.


Graduate programs, such as Touro College Graduate School of Technology's Master of Arts in Web and Multimedia Design, located in New York City, will teach you design concepts and fine-tune the skills needed to be successful in the design field. Night and weekend classes are offered, as well as a competitive tuition, because we all know that a good education should not break the bank. Click below to join an open house and your application fee will be waived!

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