How to create a Pecha Kucha presentation that rocks.

Public speaking fills so many people with dread. Sometimes, even standing up to present to your own team is an uncomfortable experience, let alone a Ted Talk or a stand-up routine. However, despite the fear, people still sign up, again and again, to share ideas, encourage others and speak on topics they’re passionate about in front of a crowd of strangers.

On the 20th June 2018, The Inspire Recruitment series kicks off, a collaboration between myself and Louise Triance of UK Recruiter, giving individuals the chance to speak and share their inspirational ideas to improve the recruitment industry. Since confirming the speaker line-up, I’ve had numerous conversations helping the speakers prepare their ideas and talks and knowing that so many others have asked me these questions, I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learnt.

Of course, there are loads of different presentation formats and ways to communicate your ideas, but the most common is the Pecha Kucha format. A simple layout that asks the speaker to present against a backdrop of twenty slides, each changing every twenty seconds. You’ll have experienced this heaps of times, for example, the popular Ignite series have a similar format, as well as Disrupt HR. Our goal is to use this presentation style to build a community of recruiters who want to improve themselves, and the industry, encouraging less experienced speakers to stand up and share their ideas. The stage isn’t just for experienced speakers.

1: Start at the End

When you only have a limited time frame to entertain and inform, you need to think about the talk from the audience’s perspective. Before I plan any talk, I ask myself these three questions: 

  • what do I want the audience to think/feel/know?
  • how will this benefit the audience in life?
  • what stories can I tell that bring my idea to life?

The clearer you are about what benefit you’re bringing, i.e. make them feel less alone, discover new ways of doing things or hacks to get things done quicker, than the easier it will be to create a compelling presentation. In short, you have to know what you’re giving.

2: Have a Structure

Traditional presentations spend up to four minutes setting the scene, but with Pecha Kucha you need to shake a leg and get to it. A clear structure will keep you on track, and guide your audience, helping them engage with you more effectively. Below is a template that I use when planning my talks. I tend to have 3 main points of 5 slides or 4 Points of 4 slides in my talks (even 5 points of 3 slides if you have a lot to say quickly!!!). A sample outline for when you have 4 talking points would be.


  • Slides 1-2     – Introduction –
  • Slide 3-6      – Key Point 1
  • Slide 7-10    – Key Point 2
  • Slide 11-14 – Key Point 3
  • Slide 15-18  – Key Point 4
  • Slide 19-20  – Summary & Takeaway

3: Plan the Talking Points

So many speakers make the mistake of planning the slides before they know what they want to say. Your slides should support your words, not the other way around. A. good way to plan your talk is grab a wad of sticky notes, then follow these steps:

  1. Write all your ideas of things you want to say on individual sticky notes.  Don’t worry about the 20-slide limit right now, just get all your ideas out on the table.
  2. Rearrange the sticky notes into the sections you outlined in the previous section.
  3. Consolidate and refine the points so you have the right number of talking points per section. Remember every talking point has to earn its place.   A common mistake is to try and include too many points.
  4. Using a piece of paper (A4 size), create a grid with 20 boxes on them.  Write your final points in each box

4: Write and Design

This sounds daunting and scary because people often wonder if they’ll have enough to say, however, trust me, the challenge is always cutting out words. The BBC works on the basis that a news presenter talks at a speed of three words per minute, which means, you only have 45 words per slide, which is 900 words for the whole presentation, and that’s practically nothing.

 If you do feel like you have more to say than can be covered on one slide, you can always talk for longer and use two of your slides. I have sometimes cheated and used the same slide twice, but that is slightly against the spirit of this presentation style.

A few things to remember:

  • don’t forget to include stories or real-life anecdotes and this makes your presentation relevant and engaging to your audience
  • the slides are only there to support you, not list everything you’re already saying
  • images are more important on slides than words. Sites like Unsplash and Picsabay offer free high-quality photographs
  • if you do need to add words, use big fonts and restrict the number of words to no more than a handful

5. Never Stop Practicing

You might have the best slides in the world, but if your words don’t come out right, the effort is for all for nothing. The better you know the words, the more comfortable you will be with them and it will allow you to speed up or slow down if you’re running ahead or behind.

Start by creating a set of flashcards that have the picture of the slide and the matching words. Memories the order of the slides and the key points. Lastly, practice the presentation again and again. Each time you practice, challenge yourself to say as much as you can without looking at the slides. It won’t be long before you have it nailed and ready to handle any nerves you might experience on the big night.

Remember This Though……

You should now be ready to present your talk to the masses.  However, remember that presenting should be fun, so try and enjoy it. If your intent is focused on inspiring the audience, then 99% of them will want you to succeed. Just by standing on the stage you will immediately have gained their respect for having the guts to stand up in front of a crowd and share something you care about.


If you are interested in attending the Inspire Recruitment event on the 20th June in London you can get a ticket here

My Pecha Kucha Style Talks

If you want to want more Pecha Kucha style presentations check-out Ignite Cardiff who has a fantastic selection of videos to watch

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