All diamond presentations are seven minutes long and are organized around 21 slides that are set to advance automatically every 20 seconds.
This is the defining hallmark of the genre; all presenters are asked to stick to this format categorically. Experience in other settings has shown that this format works when presenters abide by its rules and fails when they do not. This format offers a number of specific advantages, and audience response has been very enthusiastic.
The advantages include:
- The format calls upon presenters to be creative and selective in organizing their presentations.
- Focused presentations and images aid and engage audiences, even those unfamiliar with the topic or those whose first language differs from that of the presenter.
- This format is valuable not only for presenting image-based topics (such as studies of material culture or cultural performance), but also for all presenters concerned with visual communication and those who wish to experiment with visual techniques to enhance communication.
- This format is an easy starting point for the creation of audio slidecasts and small digital exhibitions—more durable modes of scholarly communication valuable to diverse online audiences—as well as in such settings as media kiosks in gallery exhibitions.
- The brevity of the format allows extra time for discussion.
- Brief but structured, the format supports multidimensional, open-ended presentations, making the diamond presentation very appropriate for the presentation of new projects or works-in-progress.
Organizing a Diamond Panel
All diamond sessions should be constructed with an initial seven minutes allotted for preparation and introduction of the session as a whole, followed by seven minutes for each diamond presentation, with the balance of the available time dedicated to discussion of the full set of presentations. Though the formal presentation is concluded in seven minutes, the schedule allows at least 20 minutes for each. At the discretion of the session chair, the discussion time may be used for response by a formal discussant, open “full room” questions and answers, break-out time in which presenters can confer with interested audience members, or a combination of these discussion formats.
Based on participant feedback, time should be built into the schedule to allow discussion after individual presentations, as well as for discussion of the panel as a whole. The chairs of diamond sessions should make sure that this is observed. We strongly advise scheduling one presentation every 15 minutes, because this keeps the session in sync with other panels, and because each presentation will then have time for Q&A. Some chairs may also want to include a 15-minute discussion block in the middle of the session for the first half, and another at the end.
- Preparation and practice are the keys to success in this format, not only to manage the flow from slide to slide, but also from presentation to presentation.
- Because the 21 slides in individual diamond presentations advance automatically every 20 seconds, it is critical that presenters learn how to use the automatic slide advance functions available in programs such as Apple’s Keynote or Microsoft’s PowerPoint.
- It is important that session organizers and chairs gather the associated digital slideshows ahead of time and that the panel as a whole is ready to begin at the start of the session without the need to stop and make technical arrangements between presenters.
- For each session (invited or volunteered) an individual (usually the chair) should be responsible for making sure that all technical arrangements are in place before the start of the session. During the sessions, chairs are called upon to strictly enforce the diamond framework.
- The easiest way to facilitate smooth transitions between papers is simply to upload all presentations onto a single computer.
- The room will be equipped with an LCD projector, a generic adapter to connect a laptop to the projector, and speakers. Someone among the panel participants must provide the laptop computer, the needed software, and, particularly for Mac users, any specific adapter that may be needed to connect the laptop to the LCD projector.
Models and Precedents
For those who would like to know more about the sources of inspiration for this format, there is much discussion around the web of a variety of similar (but not identical) formats, including the format known as Pecha-Kucha, developed in the design fields in Japan. Some of these are associated with formally trademarked brands of presentation events. Also available online are videos and slidecasts of presentations made in these related formats:
A YouTube version of Jason Jackson’s AFS 2010 diamond presentation on the Open Folklore project: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBUfYuVlBZE
A YouTube version of Michael Dylan Foster’s AFS 2010 diamond presentation, “”The Fall and Rise of the “Tourist Guy”: Humor and Pathos in Photoshop Folklore”: filmed onsite, or screencast (slide and voice alone).
A Pecha-Kucha presentation on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NZOt6BkhUg
“Hate Long, Rambling Speeches? Try Pecha-Kucha” by Lucy Craft [NPR on Pecha-Kucha]: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130698873
A discussion of Pecha-Kucha in anthropology with links to examples and information: http://www.antropologi.info/blog/anthropology/2010/pecha-kucha
The Pecha-Kucha Organization: http://www.pecha-kucha.org/
On Lightning Talks: http://perl.plover.com/lightning-talks.html
On the Ignite Format and Events: http://ignite.oreilly.com/
Search also “Pecha Kucha” in YouTube, “Death by PowerPoint,” “Ignite,” “Lightning Talks,” and Wikipedia.