Pecha Kucha in Practice
Pecha Kucha (pronounced pa-cha-chka). Is a presentation format developed by Japanese architects who wanted to show off their work, but who were sick of the same old death-by-PowerPoint presentations.
Basically, a presenter is allowed 20 slides--20 seconds per slide--for a presentation total of 6m:40sec.
At first brush, this sounded like a wonderful idea. It limits the time and presentation space that presenters have in such a way that they have to be highly selective and highly visual in order to be effective. Or they *should* have to be selective, anyway.
Then we saw our first batch of Pecha Kucha presentations at a recent event.
While the concept is still a great one, in practice it fell far short of an effective presentation style.
Why was this?
Well, the presenters treated it like just another presentation--only shorter. This meant that there was the same visual clutter on the PowerPoint slides, the same slide-as-speech mentality, and--worst of all--the limited time did not seem to have an effect on the content focus. Instead of being short, concise and witty--as we envisioned a Pecha Kucha to be--they were meandering and--at some points--a bit schizophrenic in their direction. That, and there was still the ever-present sin of trying to cram as much information as possible into the presentation (only with limited time, you can imagine how well this worked out--talk about overload!).
It goes to show you that just because a presentation is short, does not mean it's engaging. And just because it's reduced in length does not make it concise. The presentations should have been laser-focused, but instead the presenters didn't really know what to do with the format, so they reverted back to presentation-as-usual (only crammed into 6 minutes and 40 seconds).
We're not saying it's their fault--most people are raised in business culture to think of presentations in one way; the way they've always been done and the way they always will be done--damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!
So perhaps we just need to refine the Pecha Kucha in order to make it a more effective presentation tool...
...or perhaps we still need to look at presentations differently. Not as vehicles for information delivery, but as vehicles of communication. More on that later.
A little bit of Funny...
We thought this was too funny not to share:
Wow Factor Added to Corporate Presentation
It makes us think about what *really* adds a "wow factor" to a presentation...interaction, simplicity, engagement, stories...perhaps not just the bullet points. :)
Behind the Scenes: Engine Eddie
This is a bit different from a normal AniMate setup, since it was a Satellite Media Tour, but it's still neat to see the voice behind the character.
Engine Eddie Behind the Scenes
PowerPoint Pecha Kucha
"Then they'll do their Pecha Kucha presentations," said one of the creative directors.
The what now?
Pecha Kucha (pronounced pa-cha-chka). It's a presentation format developed by Japanese architects who wanted to show off their work, but who were sick of the same old death-by-PowerPoint presentations.
Basically, a presenter is allowed 20 slides--20 seconds per slide--for a presentation total of 6m:40sec.
We kind of love the idea.
Obviously, it's not going to work for all content and all presentations, but the concept is great.
- Because there are only 20 seconds alotted per slide, slides have to be very graphically heavy.
- Simplicity is key--there are no eye-chart graphs, because you can't absorb that in 20 seconds.
- The rapid-fire format is a break from the norm, and has the potential to be incredibly engaging.
- There's something *different* and catchy every 20 seconds, continually reinaging the brain.
- It forces presenters to pare down their information into the most critical bits.
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AllPlay Web: Curing the Common Webinar
Live Spark has redesigned a lot of events over the years. When the economy started turning down, however, events followed; a result of travel budgets decreasing on a great scale.
Not to worry, however. Live Spark doesn't really specialize in *events* exclusively (though we make a huge impact in that space). No, what we've always been concerned about is presentation; finding ways to communicate information in a more efficient, interactive, effective way, ensuring that MORE of the crucial points are retained by the intended audience.
So when live, face-to-face events started being supplemented or replaced by webinars--or web conferencing--we found a niche where we could also make a difference. After all--what is a webinar but a presentation?
What we found was that a lot of webinar hosts were making the same mistakes in a webinar as they were in their face-to-face presentations. There was PowerPoint--and how!--very little interaction, and no call to action, review or accountability.
But a webinar--more than anything--cannot be a presentation as usual. Attendees aren't in an event space--eyes dutifully turned towards the stage and away from their Blackberries because they hold a sense of obligation to look like they're paying attention. They're in front of their own computers with the great, powerful and endlessly diverting internet in front of them. With email! And games! And... well, one gets the idea. There is no way to ensure that they're paying attention.
The need to engage webinar attendees is greater than ever. They need interaction. They need accountability. They need measurability. They need feedback. They need camraderie. They need...competition and fun and engagement and...and... and....
They need AllPlay Web.
Developed by Live Spark's sister company--LearningWare--AllPlay Web allows you to engage every webinar attendee with an online game show experience.
· Each webinar attendee participates using their own onscreen keypad.
· Individual player results are tracked for accountability and analysis.
· Works with every Webinar provider: Webex, Gotomeeting, Elluminate, etc.
It's a great resource that we've begun to utilize in re-designing our client's webinars to be brain-based, interactive and anything BUT a presentation as usual.
If you’re conducting webinars, you must check this out.
Watch a video here:
Or go to www.learningware.com and sign up for a webinar to see it in action.
Millennials and Team Competition
Team interaction transcends generational boundaries, but we're finding that it's particularly good for the Millennial generation. (And if you want to start a hot debate in your workplace, start talking Millennial--those born after 1982--entering the workforce.)
But wait! We've spoken before about how Millennials are not the only generational group that needs to be engaged. Generations shouldn't matter--everyone needs to interact!
This is still true, but recent research has discovered something particularly unique to Millennials:
The love to collaborate.
Positive or negative, collaboration is the lifeblood of the Millennial generation. They grew up working in teams and getting constant feedback from teachers, parents and peers.
So at your next event, instead of sitting everyone down theater-style, put them in rounds and get them to start collaborating. Not only is it good interaction for everyone, but the Millennials in particular will thank you for it.
It may not hit on all of the PowerPoint pitfalls, but it highlights some of the most prevalent.
PowerPoint is a *great* tool, don't get us wrong, but it's easy to turn it from a tool to a weapon (the latter being used to bore people into a comatose state instead of highlighting key points).
With that in mind, over the next few weeks, we'll be starting another blog series--similar to the 7 Truths. So get ready for the Top Deadly PowerPoint Mistakes (and how to fix them!).
Engine Eddie in the New York Times.
As you might imagine, this attracted some attention.
In fact, Engine Eddie got his own spot in the New York Times. Check out the article here.
Here's a copy of the article text, also:
Pretty cool. :)
Going Viral in Pursuit of the Perfect Lawn Published: June 8, 2009
Back when being the chief executive of General Motors meant something, one of G.M.’s leaders, Charles Erwin Wilson, became the secretary of defense and was widely known by a nickname, Engine Charlie. Decades later, a marketer is centering a campaign on an alliterative alternative, Engine Eddie.
Engine Eddie is an animated character who encourages consumers to take better care of their lawns by offering them the chance to send “EddieGrams” to friends and neighbors. The messages can be personalized to enable the senders to talk up the condition of their lawns -- or suggest that someone else’s lawn needs some help.
And where, pray tell, would such assistance be available? Why, of course, from the sponsor of the EddieGram effort, the Briggs & Stratton Corporation in Milwaukee. As the leading maker of gasoline engines for outdoor power equipment, the company would benefit if Americans were seized with an overwhelming urge to improve the looks of their lawns.
The campaign is housed on a Web site where computer users can engage in some “backyard bragging with Engine Eddie,” who is a lawn mower with a head where the engine usually goes.
To indicate the origins of the character, whom Briggs & Stratton describes as its “online spokesmower,” he has a full head of grass rather than hair. (No need to buy Eddie a comb-and-brush set for Father’s Day, just a nice pair of lawn clippers.)
Visitors to the Web site can create e-mail messages in which Engine Eddie — bearing his own face or the sender’s, through the use of an uploaded photograph — “speaks” to the recipient. There is also a link to another Briggs & Stratton Web site, which describes why the company’s products “are on more lawn mowers than any other engine in the world.”
In other words, if Schlitz was “the beer that made Milwaukee famous,” as the old slogan proclaimed, Briggs & Stratton wants to be the engine that makes it even more so.
The campaign is similar to many these days in having multiple agencies involved in its creation. Marx McLellan Thrun in Milwaukee conceived of the Engine Eddie character. The Milwaukee office of Cramer-Krasselt provided strategic direction by suggesting the character be the star of a viral campaign.
Oddcast in New York contributed its new PhotoFace technology, enabling the personalized messages to talk and bear the likenesses of the senders.
And two agencies in Minneapolis, Live Spark and One Simple Plan, brought Engine Eddie to life for a so-called satellite media tour, during which reporters and anchors at local TV stations were able to “interview” the character.
The EddieGram campaign, with a budget estimated at about $250,000, is also similar to others nowadays in that it seeks to reach consumers who are younger than the typical audience a marketer communicates with through traditional advertising.
In this instance, the goal is to introduce Briggs & Stratton to home owners ages 25 to 35 who are “self-directed,” says Rick Zeckmeister, vice president for consumer marketing and planning at Briggs & Stratton, and “very Web-savvy; they like blogs and like getting customer information online.”
“We celebrated our 100th anniversary last year,” he adds, “and like any company around 100 years, what you make, and how you communicate, need to evolve.”
“For a conservative, 100-year-old company, it seems a little more out there,” Mr. Zeckmeister says of the campaign, “but we’re trying to connect with our younger consumers.”
“Honestly, when I presented it to senior management, the room would be divided,” he adds. “One part of the room would be, ‘I don’t get it.’ The other part of the room would say, ‘Man, I should send that to my brother-in-law.’ ”
One major change “in the last 5, 10 years,” Mr. Zeckmeister says, is that what he calls “generational information” is being shared less between, say, fathers and sons, in matters like “what car to buy, what power equipment to buy.”
As a result, “people don’t know as much about engines as they used to,” he adds.
Enter the self-directed consumer, who goes to the Internet to get filled in. As a result, “we’ve done several initiatives online for young homeowners,” Mr. Zeckmeister says, among them yardsmarts.com, a Web site devoted to lawn care that contains video clips, articles and a Yard Doctor feature. (Yardsmarts also has presences on Facebook and YouTube and offers e-mail newsletters.)
“We want to go where our next generation of consumers is,” Mr. Zeckmeister says,” and at the same time “have fun.”
“We need to have a little more fun,” he adds, laughing. “Yards and grass and family, it’s supposed to be fun; we forget that sometimes.”
The perceptions of Engine Eddie seem positive, based on the results so far of research into how the campaign is being received.
“It’s a confluence of fun and the viral element,” says John Feld, vice president at Cramer-Krasselt.
For instance, say “you’re 32 years old, you get e-mail from a neighbor that says your lawn looks like hell,” he adds. “You might send one back.”
The initial goal of a 70 percent “open rate” for the e-mail messages has been far exceeded, Mr. Feld says, with recipients “clicking multiple times.”
The goal of a 10 percent pass-along rate for the e-mail messages has also been exceeded, he adds, reaching 12 percent, while the goal for the number of repeat visitors to eddiegram.com, set at 20 percent, has reached 24 percent.
The only metric that has fallen short of its goal is average session length, Mr. Feld says, which has been running less than the projected 4 minutes. One theory is that people who return to the site spend less time there because “they know what they’re doing,” he adds.
If the ability to send talking e-mail messages sounds familiar, it may be because Oddcast is the agency that has developed many such applications including one for CareerBuilder — Monk-E-Mail, which dates to early 2006 — that was a huge viral hit.
There are still “hundreds of thousands of users a month, three and a half years later,” says Adi Seidman, chief executive at Oddcast.
“The first thing we look for in a viral application is entertainment value,” he adds, so in coming up with the EddieGrams the idea was to produce something that would appeal to “the Home Depot crowd.”
That is the reason for features like inviting the senders of the e-mail messages to “pimp your lawn,” and design unique backgrounds for Engine Eddie.
“We were all about making the pimping fun,” Mr. Seidman says, so senders can “put a barbecue on the lawn, put a cool chicken on the lawn.” “I would always push for the wilder and the more novel, for sure,” he adds.Hmmmmm. Perhaps the recipient of the next EddieGram will hear Engine Eddie echo “Engine Charlie” and say that “for years I thought what was good for the country was good for Briggs & Stratton and vice versa.”
The Millennial Myth
My name is Missy, and I'm a Millennial.
Millennials--or Generation Y, those born, roughly after 1980--are entering the work force en mass. They're not only changing the face of the workplace, they're also changing how companies operate in regards to communication.
Over the last several months, we've noticed a trend with our clients. They'll call us up with a common problem and a slightly panicked voice, "We've got to change our event strategy/training messaging/presentations... We've got Millennials now, and we can't just present as usual, we have to *engage* them! They demand interaction! They demand entertainment! They demand engagement!"
While we're glad that Millennials have inspired companies to start rethinking their presentations from a brain-based perspective (focused on engaging the brain in interactive ways), we can't help but lament the fate of the poor, disengaged Gen Xers and Boomers that came before them.
Nothing has changed with the Millennials. Therein lies the myth. The Millennials don't learn differently. They don't have *more* need to be engaged.
They're just not quiet about their dissatisfaction with presentation-as-usual.
You see, all those Boomers sitting in an event, PowerPoint slide after PowerPoint slide after mind-numbing PowerPoint slide, weren't paying *more* attention than the fidgety, distracted Millennials--they were just better at hiding their dissatisfaction.
Previous generations accepted Death-by-PowerPoint as an unchangeable status quo, and while they didn't become engaged in the message or absorb the key information, they also didn't complain about it. Therein lies the Millennial difference. Millennials have been raised to believe that they are a force of change; that what they want should be given to them, that they should be engaged and entertained and bygod if they don't get that, they're going to let you hear about it.
So by all means--revamp your presentations. Make them brain friendly, engaging, effective... Because the Millennials may have demanded the change, but your Gen X and Boomer employees will thank you as well.