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Rethink Your Meetings to Catch the Next Big Idea

Rethink Your Meetings to Catch the Next Big Idea

Every meeting has one. The person who loves the sound of their voice, the executive who is trying to save their job, or just an individual who cannot get to a point without circumventing it 10 ways first. They are the time thief, and they will make sure that you don’t get anything done in the ten minutes you have between this meeting and the next one on your schedule.

That’s the other thing. There are so many meetings. Meetings to talk about other meetings and meetings to justify meetings. But with all the time spent meeting, is anything actually getting done?

The importance of convening to compare notes is unquestionable, especially because the free-form nature of conversational interchange may actually bring to light a new idea. But if your team (and you) dread a meeting not for its content, but rather its duration, it’s possible the format needs to change.

Perhaps you should consider PechaKucha. If that sounds like a Sanrio character fit to join the ranks of Hello Kitty and Keroppi, that’s because the phrase originates from the home country of these cuddly characters. It’s the Japanese term for “chit chat.”

Devised by a pair of architects from Klein Dytham architecture in Tokyo, PechaKucha Nights began as a night to share ideas and design philosophies. But soon it became evident that architects and designers could talk endlessly, especially about their own work. Thus the magic 20x20 format was born. Speakers have 20 slides which are each shown for 20 seconds, advancing automatically so no one can pretend they forgot how much time has passed. The concept of big ideas condensed into a tiny, evocative format caught on, and now there are 569 officially mandated PechaKucha chapters in cities around the world.

The pace of these events is more than a gimmick. The most pertinent information rises to the top of these incredibly short bursts of presenting, and beyond that, the most compelling arguments are immediately very clear.

At PechaKucha night in Dallas recently, I spoke to someone who took this concept to work. He organized a sales meeting with 400 attendees, and asked executives to conform to the 20x20 format. The top brass were totally fine with it, but the middle managers weren’t so sure. Probably because if you’re the big guy at the table and you know people want to hear from you, you can afford to lose the stuffing. But if you’re trying to justify your presence, you need plenty of time for rhetoric. Why not try cutting to the chase at your next meeting?

Kirsten Nelson is a freelance content producer who translates the expertise and passion of technologists into the vernacular of an audience curious about their creations. Nelson has written about audio and video technology in all its permutations for almost 20 years; she was the editor of SCN for 17 years. Her experience in the commercial AV and acoustics design and integration market has also led her to develop presentation programs and events for AVIXA and SCN, deliver keynote speeches, and moderate and participate in panel discussions. In addition to technology, she also writes about motorcycles—she is a MotoGP super fan.