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Joel on Software

Pecha Kucha

by Joel Spolsky
Friday, July 18, 2008

We've already got a great lineup of speakers for the Business of Software conference:

  • Seth Godin
  • Eric Sink
  • Steve Johnson
  • Richard Stallman
  • Paul Kenny
  • Tom Jennings
  • Dharmesh Shah
  • Mike Milinkovich
  • Jessica Livingston
  • Jason Fried
  • and me!

Neil Davidson was looking for a way to bring in a handful of extra interesting speakers for very brief presentations just to keep the conference more dynamic and hear from different corners of the world. I had recently read about Pecha Kucha. The speaker gets 6 minutes and 40 seconds: no more, no less. You submit exactly 20 slides. Each one is shown for exactly 20 seconds and then flips automatically. At the end, even if you're almost done and just have one more thing, the mic cuts off and you sit down.

It sounded like a good idea. Speakers have to plan very carefully and rehearse repeatedly to make sure their speech is going to synchronize correctly with the slides, which makes for a more polished speech. They have to edit mercilessly to boil their subject matter down to 400 seconds, which makes it more interesting and dynamic. And if they suck, well, you don't have to wait very long for them to go away!

45 people submitted applications to speak. There were a lot of terrific applications. Somehow, Neil and I narrowed it down to 8 very impressive finalists who will speak in Boston. I can't wait!


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