A couple years ago, at a meeting of the GreenBiz Executive Network — our membership-based learning forum for chief sustainability executives — we began the meeting by asking each attendee to present “one great idea” from their company. It was an ice-breaker of sorts, a way for everyone to weigh in on something they were doing that was exciting, different, making a difference.
We budgeted 45 minutes for this. Five and a half hours later, we got to the second item on the agenda.
It wasn’t merely that the members were verbose. It was that each “great idea” spurred a lengthy period of questions and comments. We could have cut it short, hewing to our original agenda, but we didn’t. The conversation served perfectly the network’s mission: to allow executives at some of the world’s largest companies to learn from one another in an open, safe environment.
Since then, “One Great Idea” has become part of the GreenBiz brand. At last month’s three GreenBiz Executive Forums, we instituted a series of 15-minute, one-person stand-up presentations (yes: à la TED Talks) using that title.
I appreciate the thought of asking people to describe their passion in 15 minutes. But as a former television news producer with the responsibility of making sure long-winded anchors stopped talking at exactly 5:28:30 p.m., I say they need to take the next step: Pecha-Kucha.
This Japanese term for “chit-chat” now describes presentations that last precisely 6 minutes and 40 seconds. Presenters develop a PowerPoint deck of exactly 20 slides, which are automatically advanced every 20 seconds.
That means each presenter must:
- Limit the topic
- Be prepared with a focused outline
- Not put too much info on a slide or the audience can’t comprehend it
- Have a sense of humor – it’s tough to do this without a smile!
Those are all qualities that anyone should have in a presentation, whether it’s an engineering process or a creative idea. Of course, pecha-kucha isn’t for every occasion - sometimes Pecha-Kucha nights are held in bars! But it’s a great way for businesses and organizations to let everyone hear a lot of ideas and guarantee equality.