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
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 tens of thousands a quarter from these clients, cherry picking the clients they want to work with, but what are they leaving on the table? How many thousands could 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.

The Art Of Balancing Learning With Performance

The Art Of Balancing Learning With Performance

When it comes to developing your people, finding a formula for success that delivers on the learning needs of the individual, as well as the performance needs of the company can be tricky.

After recently attending the 20 year reunion from my summer job selling books in the US, I feel that I am a little closer to understanding what that formula is.

In my second year of university I signed up to travel to America and sell educational books door to door. The promise was a simple one, get yourself out to Nashville, Tennessee. We will train you, give you a sales territory, then it’s up to you to knock on doors and sell some books.

The financials worked out like this; pay out £800 up front to get there, buy your samples, order books and pay for all your own travel and living costs. You earn 35% of everything you sell. You might be forgiven for thinking this deal sounds a bit one sided, and truth be told I probably felt the same for most of my three summers selling books. However, the company made a promise that they claimed balanced the books. They claimed they would help me learn how to sell, build relationships, run a business, set goals, motivate myself, motivate others and take responsibility for my own success.

I still remember one of the senior leaders, Dan Moore, in sales school saying

“you are unlikely to learn more about selling, relationships and being successful over the next 20 years of your career.” 

Bold claims indeed. However, at our 20 year reunion I concluded he was probably right and that they had made good on their promise. I still use what I learned selling books 20 years ago every day; setting goals, building relationships, serving your customers needs equally to your own and much more. 

If you’d been a fly on the wall at the reunion, you would have heard many stories like mine from a lot of very successful people. Founders of companies like OVO Energy, SBR consulting, Nine Dots; successful executives including a Director at Uefa, several Finance Directors, half a dozen Directors of P&G and Unilever and too many Sales Directors to count and these are just the ones I keep in touch with. 

Why is this relevant to you?

If you promise training or personal development as part of your hiring strategy, or as a part of your total reward, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much of your training is focussed on specific job tasks vs transferable long term skills?
  • How much time do you spend teaching people how to manage their own performance by helping them learn how to set goals, manage their attitude and build relationships vs telling them what to do?
  • How do you help them link personal / life goals to what they can get out of work? 
  • How do you help them learn life skills that will significantly contribute to long term success & well being i.e Management of finances & savings?
  • How would your last 10 hires rate you on your delivery of the development promises you made?

This may sound hard, but other firms manage it and many more aspire to it. This means the most talented employees in the market expect more. If you want to hire the best you have to offer more and deliver on your promises.

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...

Five Ways I Have Tried To Improve My Approach to Time Management

Five Ways I Have Tried To Improve My Approach to Time Management

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.

Have You Suffered A Sales Lobotomy?

Have You Suffered A Sales Lobotomy?

Why do successful sales people suffer a “sales lobotomy” when they become leaders? If you’ve been promoted to a leadership role, it’s probably because you’ve got a consistent record of delivering sales results in your business. To succeed you had to master core techniques and approaches:

  • to build rapport with your client, to earn trust and influence
  • to understand client business priorities so you could propose appropriate solutions
  • to uncover the motivations behind objections so you could overcome them
  • to tailor the right information at the right time to each client

You probably excel at all of these things and more, but what many people in your position don’t realise, is that all of the things that make you a great sales person, can also make you a great leader. The reality is that successful managers see leadership as a sales job. They see their role every day as “Selling” their team on doing their jobs to hit both their own and the company’s goals.

Dale Carnegie famously said:

“there is only one way….to get anybody to do anything, and that is by making the other person want to do it.” 

This applies to sales as much as leadership, so lets re-cap on some of the sales basics that effective leaders apply to managing their teams.


Strong relationships help deliver the right solution and get repeat business. They also enable you to have influence throughout the sales process. As a sales person you have to work at building this relationship, even when clients are being reasonable. The state of your relationships with each individual in your team will affect their openness to new ideas, feelings of loyalty towards you and the likelihood of them changing their behaviour.


The power of the sale ultimately rests in the client’s hands. Too many leaders fall in to the trap of thinking that they hold the power because they are further up the ladder. Successful leaders recognise that the salary only gets people to their desk, the power of whether or not someone works hard and performs, rests with that individual. You need to sell your team on performing rather than just sitting at their desk and to do that you need to understand what drives them.

Sales Cycle

The first thing you learn in a sales career is the “Cycle of a Sale”.  First you build rapport, then you question to find the need, then you present a solution and lastly you close. Successful sales people have this inbuilt, but many forget to apply it to their leadership approach when they get promoted.  You would never sit with a client and say “ let me tell you what you are going to do today” so why would you do that to your team? Start thinking of every interaction like a sales call or sales meeting. Plan in advance what you want them to be doing differently, think about your need finding questions and then execute the sales call/meeting. Leaders who remember and remaster this “cycle” will find their ability to influence, coach, motivate and develop their team transformed.


When a client objects to your proposal the sales professional thinks “Why don’t they understand that this product is perfect for them? I need to continue the education process”. When you get an objection from someone in your team about doing something you suggest, do you think this or do you think “get on with it, just do what I ask?


Whether in good times or bad, a great sales professional takes ownership for the status and profitability of a client relationship. This means they are the first to apologise if it helps get a sale and they will take the blame even when none is due. Ultimately this is the key to being a successful sales leader, whilst you cannot pick up the phone or close the sale for your team, their problems are your problems, you are responsible for how motivated they feel, how capable they are at handling client situations and helping them to achieve their goals.
Wondering whether this is relevant for you? Take the test below and find out:

Choose one person in your team and rate your relationship with them in the following areas:
Rate yourself from 0 (very low) to 10 (very high)

a) Relationship: when in a meeting with this person, how open are they to doing things the way you suggest?

b) Power: How hard do you rate their work ethic when you are not in the office?

c) Sales Cycle: How aware are you of working through a “sales cycle” when trying to influence this person’s behaviour?

d) Objections: How would you rate your attitude when you get objections from this person about doing aspects of their job?

e) Ownership:  How would you rate your level of ownership towards the level of performance of this person?

How did you score?