Trust Me: "Pecha Kuchas" Build Trust

by Scott Crabtree

I met with a friend and former colleague yesterday, who said he thought he had trust problems on his team of (mostly) engineers. What might I suggest to help build trust on the team?

I love this question because it’s so important. Trust is the foundation of teamwork in many experts’ eyes; see Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable as one convincing case.

I also love this question because years ago I discovered a tool that I’ve seen work wonders. It’s called a “Pecha Kucha” presentation. “Pecha Kucha” is Japanese for “chit chat.” It’s simply a presentation format:

  • 20 slides
  • 20 seconds per slide, on auto advance
  • Only images on the slides

This ensures that presentations are brief and visual–often the best kind!

We used this style of presentation when I was at Intel. In typical Intel fashion, we cut both the number of slides and the duration per slide in half. We also made a rule for the sake of team-building: we needed to make a “Pecha Kuchas” about ourselves, with no images of work . These “Pecha Kucha” presentations were designed to get us sharing a bit of information about who we are as human beings, not professionals.

I’ve encouraged teams I was managing to do these for each other, with profound results. Each person talks for less than two minutes, but shares a lot. For example I showed images of myself as a kid in Massachusetts, and a picture of my favorite backpacking destination, Jefferson Park in Oregon:

What I’ve seen repeatedly is that people learn more about each other as human beings in two minutes than they sometimes do in two years of working together.

Why does this matter? Why would you take time to do this when you have business results to worry about? Because getting to know each other as human beings builds trust. And trust makes us feel safer, letting our brains work better. Work gets done faster and better by a team that trusts each other.

If you would like to try using Pecha Kucha presentations, we’ve got a free template and instructions for you.

I’d love to hear your experience with Pecha Kucha presentations. Please contact me if you would like my slide template.

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