How to Create a Pecha Kucha Presentation that Rocks

How to Create a Pecha Kucha Presentation that Rocks

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

Build a Better Business Development Culture in 2018

Build a Better Business Development Culture in 2018

Find out why building a better business development culture should be your number one New Year’s resolution.

“The common denominator of success — the secret of success of every man who has ever been successful — lies in the fact that he formed the habit of doing things that failures don’t like to do.”

Albert E.N. Gary (1940)

This is one of my favourite quotes of all time because it gets to the heart of what separates the failing, or mediocre, from the great firms I’ve worked with through the years. The ability to consistently win new business and retain existing clients is typically what defines a truly outstanding recruitment business.

“Well obviously, Alex” I hear you groan, “tell me something I don’t know.” We all know this. Yet knowing something is good for you and doing it regularly and effectively, are two very different things. It’s a part of human nature that becomes all too evident at this time of year. How many of us will maintain those good intentions to eat well and exercise more beyond the end of January? Committing to regular proactive business development is no different.

Proactive Business Development Is Hard Work

Most recruiters follow a cycle that goes like this..

  1. High levels of business development until they get a vacancy.
  2. Nurture the vacancy until it converts to a fee or is lost to a competitor.
  3. Rinse and repeat.

This leads to less peaks and more troughs. Proactive business development activity can prevent this, but it’s hard work. It’s emotionally draining. Most consultants would rather search a CV database, or mine LinkedIn, than pick up the phone to someone they don’t know. To paraphrase Albert Gray, if we can learn to love doing the things others loathe, we will be more successful than them.  

Last year we helped managers from a wide variety of firms develop proactive business development cultures. Their teams are already reaping the benefits of a more consistent approach to business development: 

  • Higher job fill rates 
  • Higher fee levels
  • Higher volume of placements per consultant
  • Higher levels of control when working vacancies.

Five ways to build a better business development culture 

1. Make Time

There will always be something that appears to be more urgent than business development activity. There will rarely be anything more important. Everyone in your team needs to make time for proactive business development, every day. It should be an uncomfortable experience when anyone tries to excuse themselves from these activities. 

2. Organisation & Planning

Proactive business development only becomes part of the culture when every consultant has a strong daily plan. They need to organise their target clients well and plan calls that have a strong benefit to the client. Once a consultants starts to get success they will naturally be more motivated to make those calls every day.

3. Talk About It 

Start talking about business development every day, in team meetings, in 1-2-1 meetings and email. You already talk about interviews and placements, so start asking “what are you doing today to pick up more vacancies”.  Use your 1-2- review meetings to talk about what’s in their business plans, as well as their billings and work in progress. 

4. No compromise 

Everyone in the organisation has business development responsibilities. There can be no opt-outs from the business development part of each day. Consultants need to move from a mindset of “working a desk” to “growing a desk”.  Resources need to be asking for leads on every call and sharing market information they gather.  You know you have it nailed when your sales support staff start picking up leads and sharing market information. 

5. Capability & Confidence

A lack of confidence is what normally stops consultant from picking up the phone regularly. You need to support and coach them to develop the skills and confidence it takes to carry out the steps above. There are many ways you can do this –

  • By helping them build a stronger daily, weekly, monthly plan.
  • By listening to their calls and giving feedback.
  • By asking more experienced members of the team to share their tips and tactics.

It’s never easy to persuade people to do something they don’t enjoy. Change is hard. It will take all your skills as a leader and a sales person. But just like that diet, or exercise plan, it is worth the effort. If you can increase the volume and quality of business development activity, you will see results within 90 days. When this happens you need to recognise and celebrate success, to encourage and inspire others to change.  

We wish you a very prosperous 2018. 

Business Development Culture – The Secret Recipe

Business Development Culture – The Secret Recipe

Are You Making Time for Business Development?

How good are you and your team at winning new business and retaining existing clients? Proactive business development is critical to the success of any recruitment business, but many of us struggle to make time for it.

Feed and Famine

Many recruiters follow a feed and famine cycle. They put all their effort into business development until they get a vacancy. Then they put all their focus into trying to fill the vacancy. Once they fill, or fail to fill, the vacancy, it’s back to business development until they get the next vacancy. This approach makes it hard to predict performance. It also creates a lot of stress for everyone involved. Proactive business development activity can prevent this, but it’s hard work. It can be emotionally draining. Many consultants avoid would rather search a CV database, or use LinkedIn, than pick up the phone to someone they don’t know.

What are the Benefits of a True BD Culture?

Managers who do develop proactive BD cultures reap the rewards of:

  • Higher job fill rates
  • Higher fee levels
  • Higher volume of placements per consultant
  • Higher levels of control when working vacancies.

We’ve put together an 11 point checklist to share the key features we find in recruitment firms with high performing BD cultures.

Learn More at Our Next Free Webinar

Join us at our next free webinar on Tuesday 16th February at 1pm. We’ll reveal the top five things you can do to boost your results. Everyone who attends the webinar will receive a free download of the full report. Everyone who registers can get a 15% discount off our next Business Development Course. Don’t delay – Webinar spaces are limited to 50. Please click on the button below to register for this 45 minute webinar and claim your discount.

3 Ways To Improve Business Development Collaboration

3 Ways To Improve Business Development Collaboration

Business development collaboration is key to combatting the BD paradox.

Our last post, the business development paradox, provoked a lot of agreement. “Yes Alex – good point” was the consensus reaction. From a neutral point of view, it makes no sense to have the toughest part of business development, fall on the least experienced members of your business.

But if you’re reading this you probably work in recruitment. You’ve got skin in the game. You probably have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. You may fear the consequences of telling your top billers they need to change. Perhaps you recognise things aren’t right, but you feel powerless to do anything about it. You can’t just turn the classic recruitment business model on it’s head over night can you?…can you? That’s another question entirely, for another blog.

Who’s to say the market couldn’t be disrupted?

But there are some less disruptive steps you can take, to create a healthier business development culture. A culture that benefits your whole company, not just certain individuals. You might not turn things round overnight, but you won’t alienate your biggest billers either.

We need to move towards a culture of Business development collaboration

1. Incentivise Collaboration

Talking about business development collaboration isn’t enough. You need to recognise and reward the consultants who actively promote other people in the business. You could formalise it by running quarterly competitions. You could just put more effort into recognising people in team meetings. If you praise people who go out of their way to help team mates and talk about it regularly, things will start to change.

2. All for one and one for all

Encourage knowledge sharing. Pair up your top billers and less experienced team members during core business development hours. Encourage them to share the tricks of the trade and their market knowledge. Move towards a culture where senior consultants are expected to support the rookies’ development. You can do this through formal objectives. However, it’s better if you can persuade them it’s in their interests too. It will lighten the load of billing managers and it will help identify senior consultants who are ready to step up to a leadership role.

3. Use it or lose it

Are your top billers creating a culture of fear? Experienced consultants will often ring-fence their best clients and intimidate others from calling them. They may be making £10-15k a quarter from these clients, cherry picking the vacancies they want to work, but what are they leaving on the table? There could be another £20-30k for your other consultants to pick up. If you suspect that opportunities are being missed, you need to call them out on it. You can give them a choice:

  1. Maximise the available billings with the client
  2. Introduce your colleagues when opportunities arise, or..
  3. Risk losing that client.

If the relationship between your company and the client, relies on just one consultant, you’re always at risk of that consultant leaving and taking the client with them. When you have several consultants working with the same client, you spread your risk and reduce the power of any individual consultant.

Culture change is never easy.

It takes time and inevitably upsets people along the way. If you do decide to try and change things, you need to plot a clear strategy out at the start and work hard to keep everyone engaged along the way. One of the reasons it’s hard, is because we all react differently to change. Some will feel threatened, others will see opportunity. Regular open conversations are key to understanding where people’s heads are at. Give them the chance to express themselves and contribute regularly.

Five Ways I Try To Improve My Time Management Skills

Five Ways I Try To Improve My Time Management Skills

I need to improve my time management skills. Who doesn’t? My life as a business owner revolves around three things:

  1. Selling more.
  2. Leading a team to sell more and..
  3. Delivering training to consultants and leaders to help them sell more.

Every day there are two things that get in the way:

Time and Energy

The time I have available for different tasks and the energy I have to complete them effectively. I often think at the end of a day “is that all I have achieved today?” and “how has my to do list not got any smaller?”.

During these dark moments there are a few things that help lift my spirits..

1. I am not alone

Type “time management” into the Amazon bookstore and you get 27,973 results, type it into Google and you get 167 million! More specifically, ask any billing manager what’s your number one challenge? Four out of five will tell you there aren’t enough hours in the day.

2. I accept that I will never master time management, but I can always improve.

It’s an ongoing path that never ends. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to say “I have become a zen master at time management”. But I hope that one day I’ll be able to look back and say “look how far you’ve come”.

3. I let others help me get stuff done.

As a natural born control freak, I’ve had to work on delegating more to the team. The little voice that keeps telling me, “you can do it all”, never goes away, but I am learning to ignore it more.

4. Teaching others helps remind me what I should be doing.

It’s easier to spot other people’s faults than your own. When I do spot things people could do better I always ask myself, “am I doing that as well?”

5. Always be learning.

Every day I take five (or more) to read up on new ways of tackling age old time management problems. My current favourite article is this post from Kevin Kruse on Forbes: 15 Surprising Things Productive People Do Differently.

If you’re a recruitment leader, you’ve probably thought at some point “I need to improve my time management skills”. If you’re finding it tough to balance the demands of billing, managing and running a business you should make time to catch our last webinar. We covered my top tips and tactics from 18 years in recruitment and some of the mistakes I’ve made along the way.