PechaKucha Night

PechaKucha Night

20 images x 20 seconds. Go!


Have you PechaKucha’d yet?  Hmm….we probably should not have turned that word into a verb, but we took a little poetic license to open dialogue about a fun event that’s coming to the Electric City for a third round of storytelling and imagery — PechaKucha Night.
Pronounced “pa-chok-cha”, friends will gather at The Vintage Theater, 326 Spruce St.,  Scranton on Jan. 26 to watch and listen as presenters show 20 slides for 20 seconds each, with the images automatically advancing. Once the image moves along, so must the storyteller. And therein lies one of the greatest challenges of this fun event that is gaining more popularity with every show.
We caught up with Mandy Boyle, who is organizing the event with Brent Pennington, to talk more about PechaKucha, and what we can expect on Saturday night:

Explain what PechaKucha is for those who may not be familiar with it, and how it’s different from a StorySlam.
PechaKucha is a simple presentation format where you show 20 images or presentation slides, each for 20 seconds. The images advance automatically and you talk along. StorySlam is similar in that it keeps your time to talk short, but is more focused on the actual art of storytelling from memory — and it has a 5 minute time limit. With PechaKucha, you’re incorporating images or slides, which adds another dimension to your presentation.

How many PechaKucha nights have we now experienced in Scranton?
This will be the third PechaKucha Night in Scranton. We had our first back in January 2012 at The Vintage, which was actually organized by Brad Peniston, a D.C. native and co-founder of Philadelphia’s PechaKucha Night. It’s a really cool story — each year, Brad and his brother, James, take a vacation to try something new, like exploring the country’s largest chess library or curling in Kalamazoo (this really happened). Last year, their travels led them to organize a PechaKucha event in Scranton. The first event drew an amazing crowd — standing room only at The Vintage. We simply had to do this again. We had our second event in August at New Visions Studio and Gallery. Now, we’re returning to The Vintage for what promises to be another great event.

How did PechaKucha make its way from Tokyo in 2003 to Scranton in 2012?
PechaKucha Nights are now happening in more than 500 cities around the world — we’re honored to be organizing one of them.
As for making it to Scranton, Brad and James organized Philadelphia’s PechaKucha Night and decided to take PKN on the road when they vacationed here last January. Brad started reaching out to Scrantonians through social media to get the ball rolling, which is how he found me. From there, Brad and James booked The Vintage and I helped out with recruiting speakers and promoting the event. After this first PechaKucha Night was so successful, they gave Brent and I the keys and it’s been a wild ride ever since!

 What do you hope people will take away from the event on Saturday night?
I hope that people walk away from PechaKucha Night and want to come back, either as a presenter or as an audience member. And I know for the presenters, they want people to take away the point of whatever presentations they’re making. We’ve had PechaKucha participants talk about everything from local history and modern classical music to community organizations and life’s lessons. These evenings are a great way to explore a variety of subjects. Who knows? You may find your next passion or project by attending and listening. It’s a lot of fun and once you see the presenters in action, you’re hooked. I also hope that people recognize there are brilliant storytellers in this area with something to share. I always hear grumblings about how there’s nothing to do in NEPA, but I disagree — there’s plenty! This is another example of something unique and special that everyone in the community can enjoy.

You know PechaKucha inside and out as you’ve been both a presenter and an organizer. What do you enjoy most about delivering a story in this format?
I think the greatest thing about PechaKucha is the focus on clarity. You have only 6 minutes and 40 seconds to make your point in a compelling way, which is something I think everyone can appreciate. I think it makes you a better storyteller because you’re able to capture attention and keep it.

Has creating this type of presentation changed the way you share information in other settings?
PechaKucha has absolutely changed the way I share information. It’s challenged me to be clear and concise — which is something we all can be reminded of.

What’s the best part of playing a behind-the-scenes role?
Definitely working with the speakers. The presenters come up with some amazing topics — things I never would have thought of — and they all bring this energy to the evening. People attend, listen, and walk away feeling inspired.

Three tips for a successful PechaKucha presentation are ….
Keep it simple, practice, and have fun!

Can we expect to see more PechaKucha’s in the future?
Absolutely! We’d love to do more PechaKucha Nights and expect to have a few more in 2013.

— julie imel

To learn more about PechaKucha Nights around the world, and see samples of presentations, visit For more information on PechaKucha Night in Scranton, visit Pecha Kucha Night Scranton on Facebook.

Choosing the right images

There’s an art to choosing the right images for your PechaKucha Night presentation. Photographer Brent Pennington offers a few helpful tips on how to successfully illustrate a presentation:
“1. The most successful presenters make use of the visual elements (slides) as an accent to the presentation, without bludgeoning the audience with them. You only have 20 seconds to show us something and tell us about it, so keep it simple. An interesting, relevant photo, image, or graphic helps move the story along and keeps people engaged.
2. The main thing to avoid? Too much text. Throw up a slide with a paragraph of text, or a big bullet list, and you’ll lose us. People are trying to read it all before the slide changes, which means they’re no longer listening to you.
3. Most of all, remember that this isn’t a PowerPoint presentation like you might give at the office. PechaKucha is a LOT more fun! Show us what you do and don’t be afraid to be silly with it.  Image quality isn’t as important as image content, so don’t be afraid to use cell phone photos or screen captures if they’re important to your story.”

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