Newsletter May 2012



Leadership & Communication
Insights from Lars Sudmann

Welcome to this new edition of my newsletter.

A prominent focus of mine during the past months has been my work on the future of teams and team work.

Do you want to spice up your meetings and team interaction? This edition is dedicated to communication and innovation in meeting formats such as Pecha Kucha as well as some tips for virtual team leadership.

Additionally, I share some ‘links worth clicking’ on overall leadership.

Enjoy the reading, and let me know if you have any questions or thoughts.

Best regards,

Lars Sudmann


During a visit at the ‘Next Web Conference’ in Amsterdam I came across some exciting new technologies and start ups for virtual teams, details of which I will share with you in the near future.

3 lessons corporate leaders and presenters can learn from Pecha Kucha
Do you want to spice up your presentations? Have you wondered how you can get more out of your meetings? Consider exploring the Pecha Kucha presentation format.

Pecha Kucha events are being held world wide in front of thousands of people. What is Pecha Kucha? In a nutshell, it is a speaking format where the presenter is allowed to have 20 slides, and each slide is on the screen for exactly 20 seconds. Pecha Kucha is japanese and is derived from the term ‘chit chat’. It was originally conceived by 2 architects in Tokyo as creative concept presentations often took far too long without getting to the point. Does this sound familiar? 

The unique format of 20 x 20 forces the presenter to:

  • Have a rapid pace – every 20 seconds there is a new slide
  • Bring the core message down to 6 minutes and 20 seconds

Personally, I had the chance to participate in two Pecha Kucha events, in Brussels and Aachen, Germany. Have a look here at my 6’20” talk at PK Aachen on ‘Remote Communication’ to get a feeling for the format.

The 3 things every corporate leader and business presenter can learn from this are:

  • The short paced format: 6 minutes 20 seconds, and it is over. Meetings become lively again. Presenters are forced to really think about their core message. This requires some work beforehand but reduces the time spent delivering (and listening to) the presentation.
  • The visual attractiveness: Pecha Kucha presentations focus on visuals or BIG text core messages. This is brain-friendly and a typically a lot more appealing to the exe that than the average corporate slide.
  • Focus on igniting thoughts:
    rather than full-fledged explanations, PK presentations spark an idea and leave room for discussion as opposed to subjecting the audience to an endless presentation. In my experience the most productive meetings are those that encourage strong and maybe controversial discussions and presentations that only share information. This presentation format is ideal for this purpose.

One of the (minor) disadvantages of the format is the fix pace – 20 seconds per slide, not more, not less. However, these are in my view outweighed by the advantages.

How is it done in practical terms?

  • When using Powerpoint, set the time on 20 seconds per slide
  • Have a maximum of 5 words per slide, and the use of pictures is encouraged
  • Keep the time

Also, the PK format can be useful when doing web conferences – over the web short and concise content counts, so this will be much appreciated by your participants. 

Corporate leaders and presenters, if you want to spice up your communication and the quality of your meetings: I suggest trying out the Pecha Kucha format in one of your upcoming meetings.
Article: 3 Tips for Virtual Teams
Virtual and remote teams are becoming more and more the norm rather than the exception. However, how does one lead and interact with such a team? In my blog post find 3 tips on virtual team leadership, including a possibly controversial tip on the use of video. 
Links worth clicking
In this section I am sharing what I came across as new and insightful in the world of business. If you follow me on Twitter you may have already come across these insights. I consider them insightful and inspirational tips on leadership and communication in the broader sense.
In their recent and practical blog post on Harvard Business Review, research Paul Hammerness and Margaret Moore show ways on ‘How to train the brain to focus’
. Find it here.
In an article written in Forbes, Keld Jensen shares what it really takes to succeed in business. Hint: Intelligence does not rank very high. Find the post here.
I have written before on the power of storytelling in business, especially for virtual presentations. Here you can find an extra perspective on storytelling, including some background from science from Fast Company contributor Jonathan Gottschall.