Choose a theme
Portfolio pieces are standard, but by no means required. Some of the most crowd-pleasing presentations are about what the presenter does outside the studio. If you can tell it in a compelling way, you can tell it at PechaKucha. But please don’t stand silent in front of the crowd if you don’t have a good story to tell. The most resounding feedback we get from our audience is to steer clear of any sort of promotion. They are more curious and interested in what fuels the fire, what they don't know, the surprises that you found for yourself. So…
Tell a story
Even a strict portfolio presentation benefits from an over-arching narrative to pull the work together. Don’t just describe what’s on the screen, reveal your thought process, your mistakes and your epiphanies. The audience may just begin to care about you and your work.
Take your time
Crafting a presentation takes time. Dumping 20 images into a folder won’t cut it. You must decide on a theme, gather material, work out your script, and adjust rhythm and pace, and all this takes time. Count on at least 6 hours of preparation spread over a few days.
Completing the slides doesn’t mean you are ready to present them. Even twenty seconds can feel endless for you if you don’t know the material. Rehearse until you feel a rhythm taking over and the initial stiffness melt away.
- Recruit a guinea pig audience. A friend is good, a stranger is even better.
- Stand up.
- Pay attention to your body language and the tone of your voice. Do you look slouchy, stiff, bored?
- Try to imagine yourself in the audience. Would you enjoy the presentation? Trim, tweak, project, whatever it takes to get you excited about your own work.
- Practice in the shower with a 20 second interval timer. Get to know what that 20 seconds feels like.
- Know where you want to start, where you want to finish, and be flexible with everything else.
Without revealing too much, set a few expectations. Introduce yourself, where you come from, and what you will present. Quickly.
PechaKucha means “chit-chat” in Japanese, so that means talk. Every presentation requires a different amount of narration, but don’t stay silent: if people wanted to stare at a screen, they’d go to a movie. They’re here for you.
- Speak up! Speak into the mic. If you move (which you should), the mic should rotate with your head. If you turn your head to show something on the screen and the mic doesn’t turn with you, people will not hear you anymore. Simple.
- Breathe. The audience needs pauses to digest your genius, so snappy bursts are better than an endless stream. Use silence as your punctuation.
- Time your comments so you can follow the slides in a controlled manner. If you start feeling like you are being dragged down the street by a big dog chasing a squirrel, let go of the leash, take a breath and start with the next slide.
Audience. Talk to the audience, not your shoes, the projector, the wall, your notes, the front row. Smile, make eye contact, talk with everyone.
20 seconds is short but aim to keep the same intensity for 20 slides or people will become somewhat more distracted and noisy.
The Last Word (some ideas)
- Give thanks.
- Offer people a next step: Where can they see more? How can they find you? Where will you be after the event?
- If you have to beg for work, be elegant or at least funny in doing so.
- Alternatively you can dive into the crowd.
Don’t go home… yet. Scan the room to see how you’ve done. Someone may be trying to catch your gaze, someone may have an opportunity for you, someone may want to buy you a beer etc. You’ve talked to the audience, give them a chance to respond.
A PechaKucha Night is a rare chance to feel the creative pulse of a city in just a few hours. But more than a slideshow, it thrives on new human connections created during each event. PechaKucha can start discussions and relationships, so don’t be shy, show your work, make an impact.