Daily Archives: December 13, 2011

Storyboarding a Pecha Kucha

Monday marked presentation day in Professional Communication and Presentation. I had high hopes, primarily because Alex has worked so hard to develop these students’ delivery and engagement skills, and because their topics were overall fascinating. I was not disappointed. This was by far the best bunch of PechaKuchas in recent memory…perhaps even since I introduced this subject in class. This makes me question whether this class should not consistently be taught by both Alex and myself. She brings something to the table I often forget–application. I tackled application in class last week during our discussion of arranging and organizing a PK by discussing and then facilitating an in-class storyboarding session.

This post is a bit backward, as I previously discussed how to rehearse for a PK, but I tend to adapt and adjust based on the circumstance, and I think being in the place of observer as opposed to teacher this month has helped me see what sorts of revisions my own heavily-cerebral, theory-based approach to public speaking needs to become the dynamic experience that Alex Rister brought to this month’s students. I’ve used storyboarding in class as a means of organizing this presentation since discovering Felix Jung’s guide on Avoision.com (yes, I know, I’ve mentioned it before–but it rules! If you are planning on presenting a PK–read this guide!).  Each month, students are required to ditch the traditional outline in favor of a storyboard, which usually follows the format below (which is three Power Point slides, set to print at 3 slides per page). Students use these sheets to help them develop an analog plan for their slides.

Want a quick and easy storyboarding sheet? Create 3 blank slides in Power Point. Then, print the slides in 3 per page handout format.

Not only does storyboarding provide a more well-rounded learning experience (kinesthetic, visual, auditory–they have to talk me through their storyboards), but it also serves as a much more worthwhile tool when it comes to visual design.  One challenge for novice slide tweakers is the concept of thinking in visual metaphors. Finding that impacting image in a site like Flickr (do you use Compfight.com to search through Flickr? No? Seriously–do it. It’s the easiest way to search through thousands of creative commons Flickr images. Do it!) takes conceptual thinking, to find an image of academic integrity, one cannot look for that term and expect magic results as one would get from conducting a search on a stock image website like istockphoto.

While I love Flickr's users and their bounty of Creative Commons images, to get to that content, I have to run a regular search, then an advanced search. Results for the same search term a few minutes apart generate completely different results, sometimes unusable or irrelevant images are included.

Stock images are images that are purposely shot to convey a concept or idea. However, Flickr is not a typical image repository. It is instead a collection of user-generated images, some of which are done by professionals, some of which are done by amateurs. One must search for concepts and visual representations of abstract ideas like academic integrity, for instance, a diploma, a graduate, an A+ (hint–do a search for the term in a stock image website and see what the results are. Then, return to Compfight and run a search for the concrete results you see in the stock image website.

Much better--all Creative Commons content, all sizes available via a quick preview glance, and the results are much more relevant to the term. I ❤ Compfight!

Why Compfight, you ask? While I love Flickr, I am not so in love with it’s search engine, which leaves me frustrated and confused. I was introduced to Compfight a year ago by a colleague and I now cannot live without it. I love it so much that the days when Compfight is down are dark days, desolate tweakless days.

Storyboarding a Pecha Kucha requires that the presenter take the same basic concepts that govern organizing a speech and adapt them to the pk format of 20 images x 20 seconds. In an effort to aid presenters aka amazing students (and hopefully in February Alex!) in creating a solid pk structure, I’ve developed, with a bit of help from Felix Jung, a short how to:

First, as Jung suggests, break your talk up in to sets.

Like small cupcakes, the sets in a Pecha Kucha should be delectable, satisfying bites of well structured content.

Keep it simple; break up your speech into three recognizable chunks:

Think about coordinating your presentation via recognizable ideas. In this case, Reeses' Pieces colors serve to remind me of what will go where.

Now, give each of those segments a number of slides.

Thinking about your speech as one long chain of connected ideas as opposed to a disparate series of chunks will help you see how these 20 second increments will work together.

Felix Jung found that 4 was a pretty good number to work with.

  1. Opening (4 slides)
  2. Body 1 (4 slides)
  3. Body 2 (4 slides)
  4. Body 3 (4 slides)
  5. Closing (4 slides)

Make these segments flexible—you might need five slides for your opening; you might only need three for one idea. Be flexible and keep the ideas simple. You can only reasonably speak 100-150 words per minute, or 33 words every 20 seconds.

Pecha Kuchas are about removing content, not adding it. Focus on what you know and what will help you prove your point and convince your audience.

Now, take each segment and write down one idea per slide that is related to your topic. These can be specific ideas or just things you know you need to include, like “thesis” and “PUNCH/opening.”

What you title each segment is up to you. Use the blank lines on your storyboard to title each segment. The blank slide to the left will work as the content placeholder or drawing of content you will place on a slide.

What you title each segment is up to you. Use the blank lines on your storyboard to title each segment. The blank slide to the left will work as the content placeholder or drawing of content you will place on a slide.

Now, in the blank space, include visual cues; you can draw these or write them out. Tie the visual cue to the big idea you are covering in the slide. You can create a separate outline for specific content or use the presenter notes feature to keep track of specific content for a specific slide.

Finally, transfer your storyboard into your slides. Create 20 slides, add your big idea, and start adding the content information from your outline and your visual cues into the presenter notes section in Keynote or Power Point.

The next post will cover a few different ways you can adapt this chunking pattern to several successful organizational patterns of persuasion including an adaptation of Nancy Duarte’s sparkline and Monroe’s motivated sequence.


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