Ann Hawkins PechaKucha

Why should you do a PechaKucha talk?

I’ve given lots of presentations over the years, so when I was invited to do a PechaKucha talk at St Neots I thought, “no problem”.

PechaKucha speakers present a deck of 20 slides. Each of these slides progresses automatically to the next one after being visible onscreen for just 20 seconds so the total presentation time is just over six mins. Easy, yes?

How wrong can you be?

That presentation turned out to be one of the hardest and yet most rewarding I’ve ever done.

It was hard on one level because being concise is an art form. As Cicero famously said, “I apologise for writing such a long letter. I did not have time to write a shorter one.” Saying anything meaningful in six minutes isn’t easy and it took longer to prepare and rehearse than any other presentation I’ve ever done.! I also found it hard in a totally different way because speakers are invited to share a topic they are passionate about and, as an intensely private and introverted person, I’ve always found it hard to share things that move me.

I toyed with lots of topics that would have been amusing and less emotive but kept coming back to the one I really wanted to share so eventually gave myself a good talking to and got on with it.

On the night I was prepared for a polite round of applause and encouraging comments from friends in the audience but I had no idea of the ripples of reaction that would follow in the days, weeks and months following the talk.

The talk was about why the only thing that makes sense to me is to treat every person as an individual and to resist giving anyone a label based on their outside casing and I’ve had messages from people all over the world who are trying to do just that. My heroes are parents who are trying to bring up children to be decent human beings and to see beyond gender, race, sexual orientation, physical ability and all the other labels they have to deal with. That’s a tough job to do but one that has the potential to change our world.

From an audience of 60, my talk was broadcast through the PechaKucha community and has now been viewed nearly 3,000 times and I’m awed at the reaction, especially as an extract has been used by calligrapher Andrew Kelly to illustrate a poster for the next round of talks.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all the other PechaKucha talks I’ve seen, from battle rapping to drawing as a therapy, so if you’ve got something that lights you up, come and share it – you never know where it might lead!

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