20x20: Make PPT Presentations "Bearable (Even Enjoyable?)"

Decorative: Rock Your Next Presentation


"The Phenomenon That's Making PowerPoint Presentations Bearable (Even Enjoyable?)" (post) outlines a 20x20 PPT strategy (20 slides advancing every 20 seconds) for student presentations -- and perhaps even instructors' lectures -- to avoid "death by PowerPoint."

  • The 20x20 stratgey can be used with most presentation tools -- PPT, Google Slides, Keynote, Prezi, etc. -- but PechaKucha (not free) and a similar tool, Haiku Deck (not free), specifically impose presentational minimalism upon the presenter.

1. The Context

  • "'Students, please remember to stare at the screen and read your bullets verbatim when you present to the class.' -- Said no teacher ever." (PechaKucha/schools)
  • 20x20 "help[s] distil[l] complex ideas."
  • "Wow, this is so much better, because I’m not bored."

2. The Problem

"[F]or anyone who’s ever struggled to simultaneously read and listen as a speaker breezes through slides ... [i]t’s not your fault."

  • "The human brain simply isn’t equipped to multitask on that level."
  • "It can’t both read and listen at the same time."
  • "[T]ext plus speech simply equals too much new information to process."

3. A Solution: "Cut the copy—and keep it snappy."

a. PechaKucha's specific answer: "20x20"

  • "Each presenter gets 20 slides, which automatically advance every 20 seconds, like watching a YouTube slideshow."
  • "Thus every presentation lasts an even 400 seconds, or six minutes and 40 seconds on the dot."
  • This keeps presentations "understandable and running at a brisk clip."
  • It also "make[s] it easier ... to facilitate events with back-to-back presentations that must be timed with military precision."

b. "[A]nyone can adopt the presentation style free of charge ... the 20x20 formula isn't [trademarked]."

  • "[T]raditional PechaKucha slides feature only images."
  • You can "allo[w] a few words of text and let students bring note cards with them while they learned the format."

4. A Useful Activity for Students (and Instructors)

  • Assign "students ... a topic along with five pre-prepared slides and only an hour or two to prepare an accompanying presentation."
  • "[I]f [they] want to do it well, [they] will actually have to think about it."
  • "Some students switch things up by injecting music, interacting with the audience or asking listeners to share thoughts with a neighbor for the duration of a slide or two."
  • 20x20 also provides an "alternate ... format [for instructors, graduate students, etc.] to talk to the public, to talk to society."
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