The Panic of PechaKucha


Courtescy of @lauraappleton

I recently presented at a PechaKucha event in Vancouver – for those of you who’ve never heard of it, you’ve been missing out. Pecha Kucha started 8 years ago in Japan — loosely translated it means “chit-chat”.  It’s a gathering that happens regularly in over 300 cities around the world – a chance for folks to settle in for a night and listen to local instigators, artists and thought leaders chat about what inspires them.

The Vancouver event is produced by Jane and Steven Cox of Cause and Affect – a dynamic duo if ever there was one  (one of my staff suggested this morning that they may be the coolest married couple in Vancouver). They’ve been doing a brilliant job of packing the house with inspiration for 2 years.

It was an honour to be asked, and for a few days I mused about how cool it was going to be to speak there. Then, the panic set in. There were three distinct elements to the PechaKucha panic…

1. The name. How exactly do you pronounce it? I wanted to tell everyone about it, but never could quite figure out how to say ‘it’. Pe CHA ku CHA? PeCHACHka? Was I going to be chatting about a cool event i was speaking at and not be able to pronounce it right?… that seems like a lame prospect. But alas, I persevered, told everyone I was speaking at PeCHAkuCHA, and learned on the night that I had been pronouncing it wrong all along.

2. The venue. PechaKucha Vancouver started in Vancouver a couple years ago, in a venue that held 200 people. And as Steven Cox shared at this, the 12th event of the series, historically it was low key – the kind of event where it wasn’t uncommon to hear beer bottles rolling down the aisles. I was lucky enough to be asked to speak at a special edition, with a focus on sustainability that was held at the Queen Elizabeth Theater. The Queen E Theater is a place rock stars play and over 2000 people can be seated. Not being a rock star, I found this intimidating.

3. The format. The night (according to the PechaKucha website)  “…rests on a presentation format that is based on a simple idea: 20 images x 20 seconds. It’s a format that makes presentations concise, and keeps things moving at a rapid pace.” Sounds good, unless of course you’re the one having to speak, without notes, to said slides, that zip by, on cue, every 20 seconds whether you want them to or not.

The night came and went – and I spoke for 6 minutes and 40 seconds exactly.  I managed to suck up my nerves and tell the story of how I ended up going from earning a masters degree in environmental management to being an accidental entrepreneur. It was such a great experience, I was so inspired by the folks around me, and in what seemed like a mere moment it was done.

I did it. And so did 13 others that night, all staring down their own demons of PechaKucha panic to inspire the crowd to green our city and walk the talk.

You can check out my presentation here.

One Response to “The Panic of PechaKucha”

  1. Seven Physical Signs of Panic Attacks | how to handle stress Says:

    […] The Panic of PechaKucha « Product with Purpose – field notes from … Share and Enjoy: […]

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