In New York, things are in fashion for barely a season before they’re passé. In America’s other big cities, three to four years may pass before that fashion catches on. Ten years later, you’ll encounter people sincerely hanging on to that look because it’s still new to them.
The events world is similar. Tasting tripe may be big with hipsters right now, but no one is rushing to put it on a banquet menu. That’s not because event organizers don’t love innovation. It’s because there are still attendees out there who are amazed that mashed potatoes can be served in a martini glass (believe me, I met them just last year).
Which brings me to the presentation style called Pecha Kucha.
Chances are you’ve either heard of it but haven’t seen it, have seen it and are over it, are all about it and love it or have no idea what I’m talking about.
To summarize: Pecha Kucha was developed in Tokyo by a couple of architects who thought other architects talked too much. They limited speakers to 20 slides that auto-advance every 20 seconds. Now it’s a “thing” people do in cities all over the world and sometimes at conferences. When done well, these 7-minute Pecha Kucha presentations can be stunning, hilarious, moving and/or thought-provoking.
Sound interesting? It is. And when you mix in drinks, it’s a lot of fun for the crowd, too. But mark my words, Pecha Kucha is in grave danger of becoming as stale and overexposed as a mashed potato martini. And, what’s worse, it can seriously backfire on you. So before you add one to your event, there’s a few things to consider.
The first is that no one knows how the hell it’s pronounced. Is it peh-CHA koo-CHA or PEH-cha KOO-cha? At a recent event, one attendee earnestly told me how excited she was to see that night’s “Hunky Monkey” presentations. For the record, I think that’s how we should all pronounce it.
The second thing is that it’s been around since 2003 (feel out of the loop yet?), so there are actually trademarks involved. Want to Hunky Monkey at your conference? Please contact the founders first.
The third thing you need to know is how to educate and prepare the people presenting. At a lot of conferences, attendees are encouraged to sign up and present Hunky Monkeys for each other. (And its founders encourage this “bottom-up” approach to curating content.) Because even professional speakers may be unfamiliar with the format, everyone who participates is taking a risk.
Unless you want to create an evening that will scar and horrify your presenters for life, please let them know:
Finally, a word about judgement. Recently, I was at a Hunky Monkey where the speakers were lined up on stage while drunken attendees texted in who they thought did the best job. The results were shown in real time, allowing the presenters – who had just risked everything to try something new – see just how many (or few) people thought they did a good job. That’s not cool. Audience choice awards are fine, but keep the results private.
So, what do you think about Hunky Monkeys? Are you over it, all about it or going to try it?
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