PechaKucha 20×20 is “The art of concise presentations”.
According to the official website, it is a presentation format where you show 20 images for 20 seconds each.
Presenters get on stage with the mic and the slideshow of their selected images scrolls automatically for them. PechaKucha nights started in Tokyo more than 10 years ago and it has become so popular that now there are PechaKucha nights in over 800 cities all over the world.
Anyone can present on PechaKucha nights, and the topic of presentation could be anything; the design project you are working on, a product you’re trying to fund and develop, interesting experiences during your latest trip, the amazing bottle cap collection you have, you name it. The main concept of PechaKucha is to share your own story with everyone.
Maybe you’re thinking “Oh, so it’s kinda like TED talks, right?” Well, kind of. The difference is that anyone can present. Students who have just graduated through to retirees. You need no qualifications.
PechaKucha Nights are held once a month in Roppongi SuperDeluxe for the price of 1000 yen. Here, creators have a chance to talk about and show what they are working on and spread the word.
If you attend, you’ll have the chance to meet and network with many creators from different creative fields and backgrounds. If you join as a speaker, this event could help you get exposure for your work and even find a sponsor for your project!
I joined this event as an attendee many times, it was really fun to see what others are working on. It’s a really nice opportunity for networking, the people I met include two creatives, “Adrian Hogan ” and “Luis Mendo”, who helped me break into the design community in Tokyo.
If you are a startup company, this is the perfect place for you to find partners and grow your network.
The audience at the Japanese PechaKucha nights is very international. Sometimes, you’ll even forget you’re in Tokyo! There are presentations in both English and Japanese, so the best way to enjoy the night fully is to have a good understanding of both languages. But even if you only understand one, you can still get a lot out of it.
However, each PechaKucha night depends on the speakers. Honestly, it may not always be fun for everyone. The variety of topics and style of presenters is so varied that it is normal to have a couple of presentations that are not very interesting to you.
My TGD colleague Chris has also joined as an attendee, and saw pretty interesting presentations: “I saw a Japanese photographer showing her international collection of drag queen photos, and she even gave out free pamphlets of her work which were pretty high quality. Very nice stuff. Also a dutch designer, Edwin Gardner presented an upcoming book about Tokyo which was really interesting. I even got a chance to chat a little bit to him about it because it really got me interested in it.”
Chris also added, “Not all people presenting are great speakers, and many times they will pick topics that are not the most exciting, but the hosts of the night, Astrid and Mark, who also happen to be the founders, are very warm and they know how to carry the night. They keep the rhythm up between presentations which, I think, is really important in these kind of events.. Controlling the pace and making all the presentations feel like a connected experience when the topics, presenters and tones are changing all the time, deserves recognition. They even work it bilingually!”.
More and more people are joining PechaKucha but the space isn’t getting bigger, so sometimes you cannot enter if there are too many people, or talking can be difficult because of the loudness. Chris agrees with me on this one. He said, “The two times I attended it was pretty packed. I’m not very good at estimating crowds, but it felt like a packed bar or small nightclub. The night has a couple of breaks where people are encouraged to get more drinks and have toilet breaks, but even with that, at times, the crowd feels a little messy. Even though presenters have a microphone, listening can get a bit difficult if the people next to you are having a conversation, which is not rare. People closer to the stage tend to be quieter, but the farther you get from the stage, the more chatty people get. So if you want to enjoy the presentations without people next to you talking about the upcoming ball game, be close to the stage… Or in other words, be early!”
Nevertheless, PechaKucha is still a good platform for the creators to show their works and ideas. Of course, you have to be the speaker to take full advantage of it. As a reviewer, it’s not easy to increase your network if you just go once. After having joined PechaKucha as a reviewer, I have to say I would like to participate as a speaker sometime in the future.