More ELT Pecha Kucha Reflections

In November 2018 I co-organized an ELT event (Teacher Sharing Day) in my native Dnipro, Ukraine. Apart from individual sessions by assigned speakers, there was an ELT Pecha Kucha Hour session, where presenters had only 400 seconds to share some ‘Think Different’ moments in their teaching careers. This post shares more description and some reflections about it.

After the event we collected feedback from its participants, and ELT Pecha Kucha Hour appeared to be very popular. We decided to keep it for the new Teacher Sharing Day on 30 March this year (more on our Facebook Page)

In preparation for the event we asked our first Pecha Kucha presenting team to answer a couple of questions to help the future PK presenters make the most out of the process. Sharing our questions and their answers below.

[Update on 8 April: in blue, you can read what the new team of presenters wrote about their PK experience. Hope it helps our EduHub 3.0 cohort!]

How did you feel about the experience (both planning and presenting)?

  1. I planned my presentation very thoroughly, so I felt confident and actually enjoyed the whole thing.
  2. It was a new experience for me, first time presenting. I enjoyed both preparing and presenting, it was very inspiring. And I’m glad I chose the topic that not everybody knew about.
  3. It was a mix of creative search, excitement, learning to do a new thing, and quite an effort, of course.
  4. I was excited when I was offered to speak, but, as usual, I doubted a lot that I had something valuable to share. I took it as an opportunity to do some public speaking, as my previous experience was only on training sessions and workshops inside the company. Thank you once again for this challenge! I wanted it to be something similar to TED talks: relaxed, with a few jokes and some powerful message in the end.
  5.  Positive and a bit anxious
  6.  I felt pressed for time, I felt confident that the topic is important and has some practical value
  7.  I really enjoyed it. At first it was difficult to come up with 20 slides but then it was a challenge to fit all the ideas I wanted to share into only 20 slides.

Planning process: where did you start? What was the easiest part? The hardest part, and why?

  1. I had to rewrite my whole presentation text several times because I didn’t really consider my audience first. Eventually, I thought of truly meaningful and useful context which I was happy to share with my target audience. The easiest part was to make the slides [in Power Point]. The hardest one was to select the best facts out of many I wanted to share.
  2. I started with writing down my ideas in the logical order, making a kind of structure or plan of the talk. Then I thought about it for some time and then selected images or quotations etc. to illustrate them. The process was very creative and went fast, so it was pretty easy. The hardest part was keeping to the frame – 20 slides (I had fewer ideas) and had to think of something else to create enough slides.
  3. First I gave myself a couple of days to think what I feel about the topic, what it is for me. Then I made bullet points of what I want to talk about. After that I developed them into a text and read it several times with the timer to see if I need to make it longer or shorter. Having done that I got to looking for or creating the pictures and putting them together in a ppt file. Finally, calculated the time and recorded the file so it lasted 6 minutes. Oh, and read it all again together with the video, several times.
  4. I started by picking up the topic, of course, I really wanted to share my (and my colleagues’) observations about the [type of students I work with] and I presented it the way that the people I work with are one of my sources of inspiration. So, I asked my colleagues to share their observations with me, I sorted them out and started writing my speech. When most of my speech was ready, I started looking for slides and was finishing the content at the same time.
  5.  The easiest was to prepare the speech, what exactly I was going to say, the most difficult was to prepare the slides, as they were supposed to contain minimum text
  6.  My presentation was planned as a part of our Reflective Practice Group Meeting and I needed to brush it up with some jokes and interaction with audience. [Zhenya’s note: it can be a great way to learn if your topic is interesting/important by talking to several colleagues about it. If they are interested, others will be, too!]
  7.  I started with writing down all the ideas I wanted to share and what kind of message I was going to deliver to the audience. The hardest part was to try to say the essence of a long idea or thought only in two or three sentences. Choosing pictures was the fun part.

Presenting at the event: What was the easiest part? The hardest part, and why?

  1. I was first to start, so I felt some pressure/anxiety, but as soon as people in the audience started laughing and got involved, I knew I was on the right track. I kept the eye contact with the audience and made necessary pauses.
  2. I was glad to listen to the other presenters before and decided not to rush it and not to keep to 6 min exactly because talking too fast didn’t seem like a good idea. I wanted people to hear me, conveying ideas was important. So the hardest was the timing – I ended up speaking for 9 minutes. It was really hard to fit all the ideas within 6-7 min limit, everything seemed important) Speaking and sharing with the people was easy – I saw interest in their faces.
  3. Sure I started with locating myself in the list of presenters. I was lucky not to be the first, so I had time to observe what a couple of other presenters did. And I was shocked to find out they didn’t time it. Decided to go the way I’d planned it anyway. There was no easiest part for me. I can say that the pics and photos really help remember what I wanted to say. The hardest (but doable!) part was the speed. I managed though 😉
  4. I was the last [PK presenter] so my speech turned out to be a nice wrap-up for the whole event)) The hardest was to start, as I was afraid that my mind would just go blank at some point and I would get stuck.
  5.  The easiest part was to speak, when I understood that people were interested, the hardest part was to wait for my turn:)
  6.  I enjoyed presenting a lot but I had some concerns about timing. The audience was really friendly and responsive
  7.  The hardest part was using the thing which changes the slides. I was going to come during the break to ask how it worked but failed due to interesting talks with the colleagues. Didn’t expect to worry so much (I believe that not memorizing the talk was a good idea).

On reflection, what would you do the same? And differently?

  1. I would keep the serious and joking balance on the same level as I had. I would try to minimize the written text and do with pictures or illustrations only
  2. I would do the same while planning – ideas first, then images and illustrations. But I would consider making 2-3 slides for 1 idea sometimes, that way I would have enough slides and keep to the timing. I would also work on eliminating unnecessary words while speaking (well, ok etc.)
  3. I would do everything in the same way, except for the timing. In the circumstances when it’s acceptable to speak longer and without time pressure, I’d use the opportunity. It’s much less stressful. But I’m happy to have tried it in the real PK format. Or almost real.
  4. I rehearsed my PK speech a lot, and it really helped as some bits were just seared in my brain, and still sounded quite naturally. If I had to do the same PK again, I would change some of the slides, as, during the presentation I realized that they didn’t always convey the idea clearly. And I guess, next time I’d love to try the real PK format with timing [and automatic slide-turning]
  5.  I would make it a bit longer and probably a bit more specific.
  6.  I would have learned how to use the remote control [clicker/device for changing slides] for the laptop.

On reflection, what kind of help/support could have the organizing team offer?

  1. I believe there was enough information provided on the format, and there were sufficient numbers of actual PK videos from the teaching field [shared as examples]
  2. It would be a good idea (for me) to make sure the organizers have the right version of the presentation beforehand. As I sent the edited version later but didn’t check that it was on the screen on the presentation day. Our Comment: this time we are asking the presenters to share the slides earlier to have enough time to double-check and re-send them (and make sure we have the correct version!)
  3. It’s a difficult question. I don’t know how it happened that everybody knew that a 6 minute presentation can last 11 or 12 minutes in the end, while I didn’t. I’d prefer to be on the same boat with everyone. Don’t really know how to organize that. That’s the only problem I had. Our Comment: this time we are getting ‘stricter’ about the format and insist on the number of slides and timing. Let’s see what happens (and… reflect again!)
  4. The only thing I was unhappy about that we were not supposed to make any last-minute changes [Our Comment: the organizers asked all the PK team to send the slides several days before the event to test them on the computer] Although I’d been working on it for a few weeks, I still wanted to change something on Saturday morning))
  5.  not sure… apart from teaching me how to use the remote control [clicker/device for changing slides] [Our Comment: great point and a reminder to try and used it before the session, e.g. at the coffee break time?]

Please share 1-2 tips for the first-time PK presenters.

  • Plan everything before you leave any room for improvisation, since time if of the essence here.
  • Rehearse with the timer 5-10 times ( my memory isn’t that good:)))
  • Rehearse with a clicker (device for changing slide). Use a mouse instead at home.
  • Don’t do all the work at once: make a draft of ideas first, then ‘sleep on it’ – because ideas will come to you from space around you, and then do the slides.
  • Practice and time yourself a few days before the event so that you can have time to make changes.
  • Just go for it and do it. It’s an interesting experience 🙂
  • You definitely need to start ‘bearing’ your speech well in advance, write it not at once, but bit by bit, editing and adding new ideas
  • Rehearse – you’ll still sound natural, but very cool. I’m sure that TED speakers, who look and sound very relaxed, rehearse a lot!
  • Make sure you have good-quality pictures and they don’t get blurred on the big screen
  • Don’t worry, everything is fine, you will do a great job, and you should know exactly what you are going to say, as the presentation is short
  • Choose the topic you are passionate about. Learn to use the remote control in case you don’t have experience of using it.
  • Start making the presentation/slides at least 2 weeks before to have time to change the photos.
  • Practice with timer to know how much time you have for each slide/idea. For some I needed only 5-10 seconds but for others about 30, so I had to find the balance in order not to exceed the time limit.
  • Watch some past presentations
  • Rehearse

My questions to readers:

  • If you have been a Pecha Kucha presenter (with us or in another event), what would you add? Comment?
  • If you have never been a Pecha Kucha presenter and would love to, what questions do you have?

Thank you for reading! 🙂

** Image design: Olga Tregubova, EduHub Team

About Zhenya

ELT: teacher educator, trainer coach, reflective practice addict
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4 Responses to More ELT Pecha Kucha Reflections

  1. Pingback: Boat Afloat! | Wednesday Seminars

  2. Sandy Millin says:

    Thanks for sharing these comments and reflections Zhenya. I did a PK at IATEFL Harrogate in 2014: It’s still one of my favourite ever presenting experiences – I had so much fun 🙂
    My advice would be to stick to pictures and just one or two words on slides – the audience won’t have time to read anything longer. Having timed slides so they change after 20 seconds is actually part of the fun – sometimes you have to improvise until the slide changes, and sometimes you have to change partway through what you were saying to keep up.
    And I’d second what the last person said up there ^^^ “Just do it – it’s an interesting experience.” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Zhenya says:

      Hi Sandy

      Thank you for the comment and tip re improvisation and slide timing! Just had that discussion with the new team of our presenters.
      Thank you for the link: we actually started last time by offering to watch the whole piece from your blog. I remember watching yours in 2014 when it was streaming 🙂
      As always, good to connect. Happy conferencing season to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Trainer Conversations: Your Own Session | Wednesday Seminars

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