Pitch Session Evaluation: PechaKucha Chicago (Part 1)

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PechaKucha vs Technori (Part 1)

Last week I attended a PechaKucha Chicago (Monday) and Technori Pitch (Tuesday) both very impressive and kudos to all who stepped onto the stage with a story to tell. Both community based, with PechaKucha more entertainment versus Technori business oriented. 

My interest was in the presentation styles, the delicacies of ‘how to say it’ and ‘get to the point’.  The following observations rely heavily on my Toastmasters evaluation protocol.

A PechaKucha (pronounced “pe-chak-cha”) is a rapid-fire presentation in which the presenter used 20 slides, each on-screen for 20 seconds. (20X20 = 400 seconds (or 6 minutes + 40 seconds)) When I say slides, I’m not referring to the slides you’d see in a business presentation. Slides for a PechaKucha are images! Images! The speaker has can either talk speak directly about each image or craft a story for the 20-slide presentation.

This month’s PechaKucha was a special event, co-hosted with Chicago Tribune, held at the House of Blues. All, but two or three, of the eleven speakers were associated with the photo department of Chicago Tribune; staff photographers, freelance photographers and a photo archivist.

Overall finding: Presenters who crafted a story tended to invoke the most emotion from the audience.

Chris Walker, a foreign correspondent/photographer, told his behind-the-scenes story of war torn Somalia and meeting a bright young photographer–a young man who didn’t make it out of the country before the situation turned catastrophic.

How does an architect like Scott Rappe tell a story of buildings? He combined his passion with his community…Chicago. Incorporating illustrations like you would see in a children’s book to illustrate the evolution of city and suburban developments.“Old buildings connect us to the past just like our elders connect us to our past.” A beautiful testament for Chicago and other cities around the world.

The photo archivist/conservator, Erin Mytowski, her job is going into the “belly of beast” of the Chicago Tribune archives to catalog and digitize the glass plates and negatives of this historic institution. In 20 slides we experienced her daily descent into to the lower level of the tower into the storage vaults and a glimpse of her archival responsibilities. PLUS examples of why she does it. Including seeing: Al Capone, John Dillinger, street cars on State Street, entertainers like Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr and many more. Her message: preserving the past for future generations.

I could go on to describe the other presenters, including crime scene photographer Terrence James, Zbigniew Bzdak who grew up in communist Poland and broke the rules displaying his street photography publicly, or Alex Gracia’s 20 things he thought he’d never see.

Pointers for your PechaKucha 400 seconds:

  • Six minutes and forty seconds isn’t a lot of time.
  • A presentation for this format must be well planned and rehearsed.
  • Use full size, bold image images, scaled proportionately.
  • No text on your images.
  • Storyboarding is essential to be on-time and on-point.
  • Passion for the story (message) while engaging the audience.
  • Invoke emotion. 
  • Initiate action.
  • Have a sense of humor.

Participating in a PechaKucha is an opportunity to connect with community. Visit the Chicago website for upcoming events.