How I went from observer to speaker

Lucinda Price is the official photographer for PechaKucha Nights Cambridge 

I've been photographing PechaKucha Cambridge events as part of the volunteer team since October 2018. I've really enjoyed the talks I've seen and I love the variety of topics covered every time.

All along I absolutely loved the idea behind talking to 20 images on 20 slides (20 seconds per slide) and thought it would prove to be a good challenge. I finally decided to get over my nerves and present a talk when the theme for July came up - 'drawn to the unexpected'. I have found over my 5-year photography career that I have come across all sorts of unexpected events and situations and could see a talk shaping up.

For me finding the images was fairly easy, given I'm a photographer! Once I had trawled through my portfolio for images that I was able to share, and added a few more I took for tales where I couldn't share the imagery, I very quickly had 20 slides put together in a workable format.

Now came the hard part! The first time I practised my talk I found I filled the time mostly with ummms, ahh and some 'and then...' with little in between. It initially felt a bit like a primary school ‘what I did at the weekend’ list of things rather than a talk. I think in the end I practised my talk over 20 times over a couple of days with many revisions on the day itself.

I had already realised the stress of the talk would put me off my photography so I took the first slot so I could do my talk and quickly move into more familiar territory taking images of the following speakers. Ann Hawkins, our MC, introduced the session and then it was my turn.

My heart racing, and the fear building up, there I was looking down the microphone at a room full of people, suddenly thinking OH what HAVE I done.... Luckily the relentless ticking of the clock on the presentation and knowing I had to get the slides spoken to fairly precisely meant I just had to get going.

6 minutes and 40 seconds later, after a few laughs and a seemingly attentive audience it was all over and I could go back to my photography!

Here's how Anne-Marie Miller depicted the talk in her delightful sketch notes! 

If you are considering a talk here are a few tips that might help:

  • Practice, practice, practice - I found some key sentences linked to slides helped me keep the nerves down. For example, as my introduction I had as a definite sentence: "Hi, I'm Lucinda and I shoot people for a living". Knowing what that first sentence would be really helped me get going. I didn't have set words for the talk as I found that too stressful however practice also meant that I roughly knew where I was the whole time, it was reassuring that as was talking the slides came up about where I wanted them to be. 20 seconds can be so fast and perversely so painfully slow all at the same time. Practice helps pace the gaps between the slides.
  • Embrace the quiet. Once I worked out that my second slide was crucial to have the appropriate phrase linked to it, I was very happy to wait until the slide came to resume the talk. In the end I don't think I had an awkward pause, but having pre-thought that if I was too quick I can just wait took the pressure off.
  • Don't try and say everything. I started with a long list of things and worked out what might be most interesting/unusual to listeners without being too specific to only be amusing to those in the trade. I cut quite a bit out and I think this benefited the talk and my stress levels!
  • Prepare when you arrive. Having not used a microphone before, I was kindly shown the set up by Simon Hagan before the session started, meaning I was more relaxed when I got up there for real. While talking there is a laptop screen with the current and next slide visible and this was great to see the set up before the talk.
  • I found the slides were just as good as prompt cards, each slide had a meaning to me; some were giving me time prompts as some tales took more than one slide but each slide helped me bookmark where I was in my talk.
  • Make sure the images you use are copyright-free or you have explicit permission to use them.
  • Everyone is lovely! The room was filled with engaged and welcoming people, as an audience goes this was a great confidence boost. I have lots of experience talking to teenagers on careers days with Form the Future and this group was way less scary than that.
  • Finally it's really good fun to do so take the time to enjoy it - it goes so quickly!

Watch Lucinda's talk Expect the Unexpected  

See Lucinda's Photography 

Would you like to give your own PechaKucha talk? Get in touch with us.

Tales of the unexpected and some unexpected tales will be told at the next PechaKucha night in Cambridge.

If you’re familiar with the quickfire presentation style of Pecha Kucha then you’ll know that the unexpected is to be expected.

As Forrest Gump would say, you never quite know what you’re gonna get.

If you haven’t been along yet then each speaker is expected to present 20 slides and speak for 20 seconds about each one. It’s a fun way to be introduced to new topics and speakers. The rapid style is entertaining as well as informative.

Cambridge’s PechaKucha team has decided to celebrate the unexpected side of life and presentations for their next event, which will be held at the Cambridge University Centre Wine Bar, Granta Place, on Wednesday July 17 at 7.30pm. The title is Drawn To The Unexpected. Make of it what you will.

Anne-Marie Miller designed this great poster for the event! 

If you would like to have a go at presenting then we have slots available. To make it even more unexpected we can also offer you the chance to do improv. This means a set of 20 slides will be given to you unseen and you need to tell a story to go with them. Everyone who has volunteered for an improv presentation has enjoyed the experience and the audience is usually cheering them on while laughing at the tangents they go off on.

Are you drawn to the unexpected? Then join the audience or put yourself in the spotlight as a speaker. Entry is free, donations to Pecha Kucha on the night are welcome.

If you would like to present, please fill in the contact form.


Taking inspiration from Barack Obama

My first PechaKucha talk came about a few weeks ago when Ann Hawkins came into CambridgeSpace and are told me that somebody had nominated me to do a PechaKucha talk. As it turned out, I’d been thinking about doing one for a little while but I've always had a reason not to do it this time so this was the perfect nudge to get me going.

Ann has an amazing network of people around Cambridge lots of them are my friends so I've always trusted everything that she does. It was a real joy to be asked.

Once I’d got past the point of committing to do the PechaKucha, the challenge was to find the topic I wanted to talk about. I decided to talk about how to make people feel comfortable. I realised that a lot of my work over the years has been about getting people in a position where there are able to do things they wouldn't usually do; putting them at ease and creating a sense of psychological safety. The presentation was a combination of my own story, what I learnt from my family, from projects I’ve worked on and from people I work with. I added to that the reasons why it’s important to make people comfortable and finally I really wanted to give people some tips that they could use immediately to put people at ease.

With the topic chosen it was now time to find some photos in many ways this was one of the hardest parts of the whole process. I was easily able to find some of them but one thing that struck me was how hard it is to find analogue photos!  With that done I sat down and created my narrative. I had decided to use the Story of Me, Story of Us, Story of Now format famously used by Barack Obama so that came easily to me. After that it was just a case of practising.

Putting it together at the last minute

The whole experience was brilliant - and it gave me a reminder of a part of my own character - procrastination: even though Ann must have asked me to do the PechaKucha three months ago it took me until almost the last minute to actually sit down and do lots of the work. Something had been holding me back. I have no idea what, but it's something that happens to me again and again. Nonetheless, in the end I was ready - just a couple of days late.

On the night it was brilliant! Despite having presented hundreds of times I felt physically nervous; I could feel the adrenaline and cortisol in my bloodstream. I know happens and it's something I actually quite enjoy. Once I stand up those feelings go away and I'm really in my element. PechaKucha was a great experience from start to finish - everyone should have a go sometime!

See John's presentation "Making People Feel Comfortable" 



In honor of your momentous twentieth (can you tell we like 20?) PechaKucha Night, congratulations from founders: Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham. 


We got a delightful message from PechaKucha Founders Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham in Tokyo to celebrate our 20th Volume of PechaKucha Nights in Cambridge! Big thanks to Jon Torrens and Colin Ramsey for kicking it all off in 2015 and to our great team of volunteers who are helping to put on even more great PechaKucha Nights!