15 PechaKucha nights: what I learnt


Communication Coach Jon Torrens ran 15 PechaKucha Cambridge events; here he describes what he learnt, both good and bad.

Jon writes:

PechaKucha is a presentation format of 20 slides, 20 seconds per slide where the slides advance automatically. It’s tough, but it can get great results, particularly with speakers who are prone to waffling. You know one of those, I’m sure (it may even be you).

I ran the Cambridge PechaKucha events with Colin Ramsay for a couple of years, and then for one year on my own. I learnt some valuable lessons; here they are:

First, a few negative ones:

  1. Free events are as easy for speakers to commit to as they are for them to bail from.
  2. Organising more than four people to do anything becomes disproportionately more difficult.
  3. People don’t read every part of a long email, regardless of the importance of the information it contains.

And now some lovely positive ones:

  1. Put in the work and you can create an enthusiastic, consistent and dedicated group of fans (I’m talking to you, PechaKucha Cambridge audience!).
  2. No problem is as bad as you think (even those 90 seconds when the tech fails completely).
  3. Speaking in front of an audience may be your greatest fear, but it’s your opportunity to achieve your greatest development. Several PechaKucha Cambridge speakers were clearly very nervous beforehand, but they all felt fantastic afterwards.


Put your heart into something for the love of it and you guarantee the chance of success. It also helps if you’re friendly and polite to absolutely everyone (which can be pretty hard sometimes). Perhaps it’s the rule of karma, although I suspect a huge amount of luck comes into the equation, too.

Image: PechaKucha Cambridge at Espresso Library by Colin Ramsay

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To read more information, click here.

By reducing stress and fear, I make giving talks enjoyable.

Using my experience as an introvert, stand-up comic and video games designer, I deliver short, fun but effective training to create successful, confident speakers. I work with both companies and individuals.

All my training is currently online. I can use Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Hangouts or Skype.

Jon Torrens