PechaKucha: Resuscitation for “Death by PowerPoint”

Nobody attends a presentation to read bullet points! Yet some of us are guilty of creating text-heavy, bullet-laden slides resulting in the dreaded “Death by PowerPoint.” Cognitive-load research indicates we’re unable to simultaneously read and listen well, so the audience tends to read ahead while your important verbal message is left behind. What’s the solution? Tell a story. How? PechaKucha (the Japanese word for chit chat). What’s that? A dynamic presentation method limited to twenty slides, each shown for twenty seconds. Slides advance automatically as you tell your “story” in about seven minutes. No bullet points and no text—only carefully selected images that transition as you share your enthusiasm and knowledge about a topic.

Two hallmarks of a good PechaKucha talk—speaker passion and “edutainment”—are demonstrated in Eye Writer, a “story” of artistic expression made possible through assistive technology and human resilience. Many additional PechaKucha examples are available online.

PechaKucha was devised by two architects as a novel way for young designers to network and showcase their work in public.1 In the decade since the inaugural PechaKucha Night, the phenomenon has moved outside the architects’ realm and spread to 600 cities worldwide, including Pittsburgh. Two variations on PechaKucha have developed into Ignite events “for geeks,” and Lightning Talks for conference presentations.

While PechaKucha does not lend itself to every type of presentation, consider these applications to resuscitate your PowerPoint slides:

  • Enliven a departmental meeting. Apply it as a novel way to persuade, make an argument, explore a question, or develop a concept.
  • Chunking. This instructional design strategy is used to break topics into bite-sized pieces so the brain can more easily digest new information. For example, you can introduce a chunk of new information using PechaKucha2 to break up a long lecture.
  • Capture audience attention. PechaKucha fits within the average seven to nine minute human attention span, and is likely to maintain audience engagement for that duration.
  • Student assignments. Challenge students to improve their presentation skills.3  PechaKucha compels students to arrive better prepared without reading from the screen, and to produce a concise talk, all while garnering time for valuable post-presentation class discussion.

Interested in tips for creating a PechaKucha talk and where to find copyright-free images?  Register for an upcoming PechaKucha Basics for Presentations HSLS FlashClass. You can sign up to receive all FlashClass Offers via e-mail, or view current FlashClass Offers.

1. “PechaKucha 20 x 20 Frequently Asked Questions,” Klein Dythan Architecture, accessed April 1, 2013,

2. Klentzin JC, Paladino EB, Johnston B, and Devine C. “Pecha Kucha: Using ‘Lightning Talk’ in University Instruction,” Reference Services Review 38, no. 1 (2010):158-67, accessed April 1, 2013,

3. Beyer AM. “Improving Student Presentations: Pecha Kucha and Just Plain PowerPoint,” Teaching of Psychology 38, no. 2 (April 2011):122-6, accessed April 1, 2013,

~ Rebecca Abromitis

New Online Seminars and Research Protocols

Henry Stewart Talks: Biomedical & Life Sciences CollectionHenry Stewart Talks

HSLS provides Pitt users with access to the Henry Stewart Talks: Biomedical & Life Sciences Collection of online, audiovisual talks given by leading experts from around the world. More than 40 new talks—on topics including innate immunity, glycobiology, cytokines, and calcium signaling, among others—were recently added to this collection. Nearly 1,600 talks across 80 different series are available, and over 100 talks are approved by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education for CME credit. One key feature of the talks is a slide index, allowing you to instantly navigate to specific points in a particular talk. Continue reading

Data Management Planning: Storage, Backup, and Security, Part 3

Are you taking the appropriate steps to store, backup, and secure your data files? Does your research group have formal policies in place that are detailed in your data management plan? If you answered no, or maybe…read on!

The lifespan of storage media such as servers, hard drives, CD/DVDs, and flash drives varies depending on the use, location, and maintenance of the media. It is important to know the limitations, lifespan, and maintenance needs of the selected media. Don’t forget—all media, no matter how reliable, must be backed up. Creation of multiple backups and use of off-site storage provide the best protection. Consider whether to back up particular files or the entire computer system, the frequency needed, data backup location (i.e., off-site server), and persons responsible.

If you do not have the staff or expertise to implement a data management plan, consider consulting with one of these University of Pittsburgh departments: Computing Services and Systems Development (CSSD), the Center for Research on Health Care (CRHC) Data Center, Epidemiology Data Center, or the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (fees may apply).

Are all of the members in your lab using a consistent file naming convention to increase efficiency? The contents of data files should be described in brief but meaningful ways for quick retrieval. Other tips:

  • Avoid symbols such as “  /  \  :  *  ?  ”  <  >  #  [  ]  &  $ in file names.
  • Do not use spaces to separate words.
  • Follow the date format recommended by ISO 8601: YYYY-MM-DD.
  • When using sequential numbering, make sure to use leading zeros so files stay in order when sorting by file name (i.e., RatajeskiSurvey01).

Finally, safeguard the integrity of your data by restricting access to sensitive data. Each computer in your lab should have updated anti-virus protection, firewalls, and intrusion detection in place, especially if your system is connected to the Internet. Do not store confidential data on servers or computers connected to an external network or send personal or confidential data via e-mail. Safeguard your physical space as well. Control access to rooms and computers where data is stored and log the removal of, and access to, media or hardcopy material.

More information about sensitive data, security, and backing up your data, is available at

Part 1 of this series appeared in the February 2013 HSLS Update and explored various aspects of data management planning; while Part 2, in the March 2013 issue, examined metadata.

~ Melissa Ratajeski

Practice and Record Your Presentation in Falk Library’s Group Study Room E

Do you need to improve your presentation skills? Falk Library’s Group Study Room E is now equipped with the latest technology to help you practice your presentations. The new media console allows you to videotape yourself giving a presentation as well as record your onscreen presentation from your laptop. Saving the video files to a flash drive allows you to take your video presentation with you for review.

The following diagram of Group Study Room E provides an overview of the room setup and recording options:

GSR Recording EquipmentGroup Study Room E can be reserved for video recording purposes up to three days in advance. Advance registrations must be made in person at the Technology Help Desk or by calling 412-648-9109. At 10 a.m. on the current day, the room can be reserved online or in person on a first-come, first-served basis. Individuals or groups of up to four people can book Group Study Room E for up to four hours.

Before using the room, you must first go to the Technology Help Desk to check out the room key and wireless microphones. Laptops and high-capacity flash drives are also available for check out. A valid Pitt ID is required in order to borrow these items. For more information, please review the Group Study Room policies.

The video system is designed to be user-friendly and easy to follow. You have the option to record just the camera or the laptop, a split-screen of both the camera and laptop, or a picture-in-picture with the camera in the corner. Video files are saved in .ts format to a flash drive and can be played using VLC player. Please see the step-by-step instructions in the room to guide you through the recording options.

For additional assistance, please contact the Technology Help Desk.

~ Julia Jankovic

New Rolling Whiteboards

Take notes, solve problems, or plan a project!
Take notes, solve problems, or plan a project!

We’ve purchased new rolling whiteboards that are currently available on the library’s upper floor. Please feel free to move them anywhere in the library you want to work. Use them to work with classmates or by yourself—to draw diagrams, solve equations, outline projects, or use them to provide a walled off study space. When you’re finished, erase your work and leave the whiteboard for the next person.

You’ll find whiteboard dry erase markers and an eraser attached to each board.

If you have any questions, please Continue reading

HSLS Staff News


Jonathon Erlen, history of medicine librarian, was appointed to the American Osler Society’s Executive Board for a three-year term.

Andrea Ketchum, reference librarian, was appointed to the Medical Library Association’s Scholarly Communication Committee for a three-year term.


Kate Flewelling, outreach coordinator, NN/LM Middle Atlantic Region, and C. Bohn1, presented a poster titled “Online Resources to Support Public Health Promotion” at the New York State Public Health Association annual meeting, in Troy, NY, on April 25, 2013.

1. New York State Council on Children and Families, Rensselaer, NY.

Michele Klein-Fedyshin, reference librarian, presented a poster titled “Translating Evidence into Practice at the End-of-Life: Information Access, Needs, and Usage by Hospice and Palliative Nurses” at the Eastern Nursing Research Society, in Boston, MA, on April 18, 2013. This project was funded by the NN/LM Middle Atlantic Region.

May Classes

HSLS offers classes on database searching, software applications such as Adobe Photoshop, bibliographic management, molecular biology and genetics, and library orientations. For more information, visit the online course descriptions.

Classes are held on the first floor of Falk Library (200 Scaife Hall) in Classroom 1 and on the upper floor of the library in Classroom 2. All classes are open to faculty, staff and students of the schools of the health sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. They are also open to UPMC residents and fellows.

No registration is required for any of these classes. Seating for classes is first-come, first-served, until the class is full. Classes marked with an asterisk (*) qualify for American Medical Association Category 2 continuing education credit.

Class schedules are subject to change. Please consult the online class calendar for the most current information.

Faculty, staff and students of the schools of the health sciences will need a valid Pitt ID or e-mail account to attend these classes. UPMC residents/fellows will need to show their UPMC IDs.



Introduction to HSLS Resources and Services at Falk Library
(Meet inside entrance to Library)
Offered upon request to groups or individuals. Call 412-648-8866.



Painless PubMed* (Falk Library Classroom 1)

Tuesday, May 7 noon-1 p.m.
Monday, May 13 4-5 p.m.
Wednesday, May 22 10:30-11:30 a.m.
Thursday, May 30 11 a.m.-noon

Testing Beyond the Laboratory: Finding Testing Instruments Used in Research and Clinical Settings* (Falk Library Classroom 1)

Thursday, May 9 1-2 p.m.



SNPs & Genetic Variation* (Falk Library Classroom 2)

Wednesday, May 15 1-3 p.m.

Gene Regulation Resources* (Falk Library Classroom 2)

Wednesday, May 29 1-3 p.m.



Adobe Photoshop (Falk Library Classroom 2)

Tuesday, May 14 12:30-2:30 p.m.

EndNote Basics (Falk Library Classroom 2)

Thursday, May 30 2:30-4:30 p.m.

PowerPoint for Conference Posters (Falk Library Classroom 2)

Tuesday, May 21 12:30-2:30 p.m.



Customized classes can be developed for your department, course, or other group.