It’s Time for PechaKucha: Do it with Style

“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.”

Michael Altshuler

A 60-year-old woman was arrested after exceeding her allotted three minutes of speaking time at a California city council meeting. She had the whole 3 minutes for her speech, while I have just about 20 seconds to introduce my guest today – Tekhnologic. 99.9% of readers will now ask: Why 20 seconds?


  • It takes a reader about 20 seconds to scan a blog post and decide on “should I stay, or should I go”;
  • A hug that increases oxytocin (often called the “love drug”) which can make you a lot happier and fill you in with positive emotions should last at least 20 seconds; (A good read with practical ideas for your classroom with an added bonus of 7 fantastic 20-second timers for PowerPoint presentations available for free download is of equal effect, if not more)
  • It is exactly the time limit you have per slide to deliver a PechaKucha presentation – the style that combines storytelling with images. (What else could a teacher wish for?)

Time flies.

Take it away, Tekhnologic:


[Image credit: Thomas Hawk]

PechaKucha is a style.


What is PechaKucha?

PechaKucha (ペチャクチャ) is one of many Japanese onomatopoeia phrases. It means something similar to chattering, chit-chat or prattle if you look it up in the dictionary. However, it may be considered more well-known as a presentation style, where you have 20 slides and only 20 seconds per slide to talk. This presentation style was designed to prevent people from talking too long and to encourage them to communicate their core message. You can read more about PechaKucha and its originators (Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham) here and here. PechaKucha events now happen all around the world. Venues are hired, speakers are selected, and the hunt for the best 20 images that will perfectly illustrate your ideas begins. People sit at their computers with their presentation software loaded, writing notes and adding timers to their presentation, practicing their presentation until it is etched in their mind. And it’s great! I have even written an article about how to create timers in PowerPoint, which can be used for a PechaKucha. It’s hard not to love a style of presentation designed to motivate the presenters and keep the audience engaged, but it is easy to forget that is a STYLE of presentation. And because it is a style of presentation you don’t need a projector, you don’t need an interactive whiteboard (IWB) or presentation screen, and you don’t even need a computer. You just need the style!

Teaching Unplugged

The first time I came across a low-tech version of a PechaKucha was in Teaching Unplugged: Dogme in English Language Teaching (Meddings & Thornbury. Delta Publishing). There is an activity in the book called ‘Pocket Pecha Kucha’ which I instantly fell in love with because of the alliteration. I won’t go into the details of the activity (if you have the book you know, and if don’t have the book, well… spoilers), but you use objects in your pockets or your bag instead of using images. It’s fantastic and I’ve have really enjoyed using this activity suggestion from the book because it instantly generates conversation. That does go to show that it is really more about style than the technology.

PechaKucha in your hand

Here are some ideas for making a PechaKucha with pen, paper and scissors. You don’t have to follow the 20 slides and 20 seconds format exactly. PechaKucha was aimed at limiting speaking time, whilst we want to encourage speaking. Flexibility is an important part of achieving that.


Students produce their own visuals with pen and paper. Working in groups of four, each student would have to make five images. The images don’t have to be works of art, they can be sketches, charts and graphs, symbols, or words. The images should represent the students’ ideas. If you are worried that 20 images would take up too much time, decrease the number to 10, which is more manageable.

Magazines and Newspapers

Magazines and Newspapers are full of images, stories, and information. It might be more difficult to find 20 items that represent the same idea or theme. This isn’t a problem though. Decrease the amount of items required and increase the speaking time for each item.


A collage is a mixtures of materials or images that is glued to a flat surface, usually a large piece of card. Twenty items shouldn’t be a problem because of the variety that a collage allows. Use a combination of photos, magazine cuttings, newspaper articles, materials and small objects to make your PechaKucha. It would make excellent project work with students working together in groups to think of the items that represent their ideas. They can then make the collage and present it to the class, talking about each item for twenty seconds.

PechaKucha on your phone

Sometimes the issue is more about space and resources than it is about technology. You may not have your own projector or computer but your students have their own devices. Here are two ideas for making a PechaKucha with mobiles phones or tablets.

Create a photo album

With a lot of mobile phones you can create different photo albums to organize your photos. You can read some tips here and here showing you how to create a new album on the iPhone. If you do have an iPhone there is a plus (+) symbol in the upper left-hand corner of the albums screen. Press it and you will be asked to name the new album. I recommend calling the new album ‘PechaKucha.’ Once a new album has been created, ask the students to present X number of photos, with a time limit to talk about each photo (20 photos x 20 seconds, 10 photos x 40 seconds, or 5 photos x 80 seconds). Whether students use existing photos or you ask them to take new photos around a theme doesn’t matter, both can be stored in the new album.

Presentations on your Phone

PowerPoint, Keynote, Google Slides and Prezi all have apps for mobile devices, all of which are free. (I have them all installed on my iPhone) If your students do create a presentation and store it on a cloud like Google Drive or OneDrive, it is easy to open on their device. Alternatively, they can e-mail the presentation to themselves and open it that way.

Remember PechaKucha is a style. Be creative with the style.

Please leave a comment if you have any other ideas or ways of doing a PechaKucha in a low-tech classroom.

Take care!

Thanks very much for this post, Tekhnologic!

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Other resources:




  1. Reblogged this on tekhnologic and commented:
    Previously, Svetlana Kandybovich from ELT-CATION wrote a guest post for me on Tekhnologic. This week, it was my time to write a guest post for her.

  2. […] In the lesson students talk about their reasons for learning English and what they want to do with English in the future. They also watch a short video and answer comprehension questions. It’s Time for PechaKucha: Do it with Style | ELT-CATION. […]

  3. I love Pecha Kucha as a classroom tool. It’s wonderful to work with these kinds of guidelines so you’re having students focus on rehearsing (if it’s a pre-planned presentation).

    I’d never considered doing a PK with a phone though. Great idea! If you have a larger group, it’d be wonderful to have small groups all performing PKs to one another, instead of having one presenter as a the class focus.

    • Hi Andrew. Thanks for the kind words. I completely agree with you. When I ask students to introduce photos from their phones, I often ask that they work in small groups. The huge benefit of monitoring several small groups is you have lots of language points you can draw upon in feedback without singling out any one presenter. You can also keep the activity going by rotating students between groups. As you suggest, it might be a good way to build up to class presentations. I think confidence building is a huge part of teaching presentation skills. Take care! T

  4. […] There are many variations on PechaKucha that you can use in the classroom, but I love the idea of students working in small groups to select appropriate images or o and practice what they are going to say. You could have them focus on content from your subject or let them group themselves based on interest. This post has excellent guidelines and ideas for introducing PechaKucha to your class. […]

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