How to Organize a PechaKucha Panel

I’ve been to many conferences and events and I’ve seen a wide-range of presentation styles and formats, but the one that I’ve found to be most engaging is the PechaKucha.  The PechaKucha 20X20 style is a Japanese presentation style in which each speaker prepares a PowerPoint presentation consisting of 20 images (or slides), each of which is shown for 20 seconds. The slides advance automatically and so the speaker must talk to each slide as it changes.  They are highly visual and very fast-paced presentations – each lasting only 6 minutes and 40 seconds total!

This year I’ve volunteered to organize two such panels and while I’ve attended many of these events I really had no idea what was involved in planning one until now.  I’ve found that they take quite a bit of forethought and planning, so I thought I’d share my research and experience with organizing twoof these panel events.


PechaKucha Panel Planning


Choose a Theme: You’ll want to choose a theme which will tie all of your presenters’ talks together.  The theme that I chose was Law Librarianship in the Digital Age and I filled the panel with speakers who contributed a chapter to that book.  Each will be speaking on their respective topics that they wrote about.


Recruit Speakers: A PechaKucha panel or event can have any number of presenters.  The two that I’ve been organizing contain 8 and 10.  You’ll want to make it clear to prospective participants that preparing a PechaKucha presentation can be quite time consuming, and let them know the “rules” or guidelines involved ahead of time.


Find a Moderator: In order to keep a PechaKucha on track, you’ll want to have someone moderate who isn’t speaking. They can load up all the presentations, introduce the panel at the beginning of the session and explain the Pecha Kucha style to the audience, and introduce the speakers..


Prepare the Presentation(s): You’ll want to set the presentations to automatically forward after 20 seconds and then pre-load them all onto the speaker computer before the panel begins, the moderator can then start each one before they introduce the next speaker.   Alternatively, you could combine them all into one large presentation, although I can see a lot of potential for problems with this solution.  Either way, you will want to ask your participants to get their slide decks to you well in advance of the event.


Plan the Introductions: The moderator will want to introduce each speaker as they open their presentations and set them to start.  You will want to plan the best way to do this logistically at your event.  For example, at one of the panels I’ll be moderating we will be pressed for time so I plan to add a biographical slide to the beginning of each presentation.  I will introduce them briefly and the audience can read the rest of their bio as they approach the stage.


Have a Plan B: In the event that you experience technical difficulties, it’s important to have a plan B.  I have heard that organizers have had the presentations “stall” or stop forwarding automatically.  In this case, be prepared to have the moderator time the slides on their phone and advance them after 20 seconds with a clicker for the speaker.


Plan Intermissions: You definitely don’t want to make the audience sit through 10 PechaKucha presentations without a break!  In the case of my panel, I have planned  two 6 minute & 40 second intermissions to break it all up and also to take questions.  One break will be after the first 3 presentations and again after the next 3.  I will moderate questions for those speakers during that time, as well as at the end of the session.


Plan Q&A Time: One thing you don’t want to forget to plan for is Q&A.  People will be intrigued by this type of presentation and they will have a lot of questions.  At the outset, when you are factoring the time allotted for the panel and trying to figure out how many speakers you can work in at 6 minutes, 40 seconds, don’t forget to add in time for questions.


Plan a Final Bow: At the end, after the final Q&A, invite all the speakers back onto the stage for a group bow/thank you/applause.



PechaKucha Presentation Guidelines

You’ll want to give this list of rules or guidelines to your speakers so that they know exactly what’s expected of them.


  • Your presentation must be in MS PowerPoint format.


  • You will need to support your talk with 20 PowerPoint slides. No more and no less.


  • Each slide may contain images or text (or both) but NO animation, video or music.


  • You only have 6 mins & 40 seconds so you will need to get to the point quickly!


  • I will need your completed slide deck by _______


  • On the day of the event, you will be introduced by the moderator who will open up your presentation and press start. The slides will change every twenty seconds; you won’t need to press anything. You will give your talk as the slides change behind you.



PechaKucha Resources