Jo's Web Wizardry

Jo Atherton

Pecha Kucha is Japanese for ‘chit-chat’
It is an international movement where creative people come together to share their ideas in an informal presentation format. This month, I share my recent Pecha Kucha experience with you, consider the benefits of presenting work to an online audience and celebrate the movie-making technology that puts publishing in the hands of us all.

What is Pecha Kucha?

Pecha Kucha is Japanese for ‘chit-chat’.  It has become known as an informal presentation night where creative people get together and share their ideas, work, projects or anything they wish to talk about for just under 7 minutes.

The presentation format is simple. You show 20 images, each for 20 seconds. The images advance automatically and you talk along to the slides.

Presentations are saved and an audio recording is made on the night, both of which are uploaded to the Pecha Kucha website for all to see.

The Pecha Kucha website holds a wealth of information with thousands of presentations about all manner of subjects from around the world and is well worth exploring. It could form the basis for research, a means of viewing the world differently or connecting with others working with similar materials to yourself.

Although public speaking isn’t always the easiest thing to do, the informal Pecha Kucha format is very accessible and I would recommend to anyone to give it a go!

It’s less than 7 minutes that would enable you to convey your ideas, show your work and create an online presentation that will forever be available for you to share.

My Pecha Kucha experience

Back in June 2014, I took part in the Creative Bedfordshire Pecha Kucha night. I had never attended this type of event before but felt it would be a great way to introduce my work to the local creative community.

Fitting my practice into such a short format was a challenge, but the very process of thinking through the presentation was actually extremely useful. It was an opportunity to concentrate on what is important in my work and how best to convey the themes that are so central to my creative journey.

How would you convey your artistic practice in 20 slides? What images would you show? How would you convey your inspirations? What are the key themes?

You can see that with a few simple questions, you already have the basis for organising your ideas and can begin to build a presentation.

In my presentation, I explained the themes and motivations behind my work, showcasing a number of my tapestries, along with an explanation of the ways in which I work with Nature, along with some of my favourite finds. It was wonderful to share my inspirations with the local community, especially as we are particularly landlocked in the Home Counties!

What are the benefits of delivering a Pecha Kucha presentation?

A few weeks after the Pecha Kucha evening, I was thrilled to learn that Pecha Kucha HQ in Tokyo had selected my talk to be the global Presentation of the Day on Monday 21st July. This meant it was featured across all of their global channels including Twitter and Facebook.

I was even featured on their Blog, content which continues to drive traffic to my own website on almost a daily basis. This has given me an amazing amount of international exposure, something I would have struggled to acquire on my own.

Another benefit of participating in Pecha Kucha has meant that I now have a ready packaged, short introduction to my work which I can share with people, be it gallery owners, potential customers or those admirers who pass by my website. It has become an effective way of conveying my work in a really accessible way.

As a consequence of speaking at this event, I was invited to present at the forthcoming TEDxBedford - a similar international movement of presentations which takes place in November and will be available online.

Technology is far more accessible to people now, meaning that recording videos doesn’t have to be left to expensive professionals. Most laptops and computers will now have webcams, and in all probability, you are carrying a camera in your pocket on your phone. We can produce our own films, talk about our work or simply film finished work and publish it online very easily using sites such as YouTube, Vimeo or even Facebook.

Pecha Kucha in Hertfordshire

After my positive experience, I suggested that HVA host their own Pecha Kucha evening. For me, the Creative Bedfordshire event was a great opportunity to earn more about other people’s work, meet my fellow artists and be inspired by the wide range of work taking place across the county.

I feel that if there was enough interest from HVA members to run our own event, this could be a real positive experience for artists in Hertfordshire, with the chance of reaching people from across the world too.