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Using Pecha-Kucha to Hone Your Sales Message


In a world of non-stop chatter on social media and waves of never-ending content, it’s difficult to differentiate your brand and message.  It’s even more difficult to engage potential customers to buy your products or services with limited in-person meetings due to the pandemic wreaking havoc on personal and professional schedules. Finally, launching and building a startup in the midst of all of this can sometimes feel like you’re a central character in some Greek tragedy, like Sisyphus and his perpetual battle to roll that rock up a hill. In short, sales is hard.

However, selling is an important part of any startup. Whether you’re pitching your vision to investors, selling your services and products to clients, or preaching the mission of your company to new hires, honing your message is essential. I’ve had the good fortune to hone my sales and marketing skills across various companies and within varied environments. That’s thousands of hours grinding through sales trainings, fruitless dialing for dollars, empty-handed conclusions of sales calls, and the non-stop search for the right incentives to motivate your teams to sell into greatness. It’s all provided me with an aptitude for seeking out the most efficient means of getting someone to “yes.”

I have discovered that a paramount skill when conveying your value proposition in any circumstance, whether it be a job interview, selling a widget, or convincing a friend to invest in your daughter’s baking business, is concise, clear, and simple messaging. This sounds simple (pun intended), right? Not by a long shot. In reality, it’s a discipline and craft that requires hours of practice and a commitment to organized thought.

Three years ago, I came across an article detailing a presentation format that originated in Japan about two decades ago called Pecha-Kucha. The basic premise is that a presenter (of any topic) shows 20 slides for 20 seconds each to accompany their commentary and story. The slides progress automatically, and the slides or images are meant to convey the essence of the presentation. It’s a method that runs counter to the antiquated yet still common style of loading slides with text and graphs that result in audiences reading what’s on a screen instead of watching the “show” in front of them.

Think about it. Six minutes and forty seconds to get your vision, message, and pitch across to an audience. No crutch from text-laden slides that take the focus off of you as the presenter. Which is, let’s be honest, the reason most presenters use text-rich slides to begin with. To hide! This is not to suggest that this format works for every presentation or pitch on every occasion, because it doesn’t. The point is this type of presentation is a wonderful training tool that forces you to build your message into a tightly disciplined pitch in a short, finite amount of time.

The originators of this format chose six minutes and forty seconds because studies have shown that human attention spans only last seven minutes before we lose focus or interest. In a crowded, loud, and distracting world, getting your value proposition across to a listener quickly is more important than ever. So give Pecha-Kucha a shot – streamlining your message may be just what your sales pitch needs.

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