PechaKucha: Where You Have 6 Minutes + 40 Seconds to Explain Yourself

It was 8:20 p.m. on a Wednesday in mid-October. Over 100 San Diegans were wedged into the Whistle Stop bar in South Park, listening to marketing guru David Lecours, the emcee for San Diego’s ninth installment of the salon-style event known as PechaKucha Night.

“Anybody grow up here and used to go to Farrell’s?” asked Lecours. A few hoots came from the audience. “Yeah? So, at Farrell’s they have this particular dessert called the Trough.” There were murmurs of recognition. “The Trough had ten scoops of ice cream, and the goal was to eat this whole thing before it melted. That’s the kind of thing you’re in for tonight.”

PechaKucha is the onomatopoeic Japanese phrase for “chitchat.” As Lecours went on to say, architects and designers tend to be a pedantic bunch. This is why European-born architects Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham (whose firm, Klein Dytham architecture, is based in Tokyo), created a short, structured format that would force presenters to be succinct. As Dytham said in a recent interview aired on National Public Radio, “You get passionate about whatever you’re talking about, and you go on forever — so we came up with 20 slides, 20 seconds a slide.”

After requesting that people not forget to donate $5 at the door, Lecours introduced the first presenter: Howard Blackson, an urban designer. Fewer than ten seconds passed between the time Blackson was handed the mike and his first slide appeared on the big screen behind him.

This would be Blackson’s — a young-looking 40-something with a mop of dark hair — fourth time presenting at PechaKucha. He jokingly complained about having to go first after only “four sips of beer,” then transitioned into a well-rehearsed spiel about the detrimental consequences of urban sprawl. His first slide was a snapshot of a Chevron ad depicting a woman’s smiling face, over which was written, “I will leave the car at home more.” Blackson said, “You know there’s something wrong when folks are saying, there’s a problem here, don’t use our products.” The crowd chuckled as the next slide appeared: a mock Oscar Meyer ad in which Blackson could be seen smiling beneath the words, “I will stop eating hot dogs.”

The problem with the Chevron ad, Blackson explained, is that depending on where she lives, the woman pictured could be making too great a sacrifice (missing work, friends, school, etc.) in her bid to use less of Chevron’s moneymaker. Blackson, who walked to the Whistle Stop from his home in South Park, went on to discuss the importance of zoning and planning codes and which agencies would need to cooperate with each other to make change happen. As he spoke, images of town layouts, zoning spreadsheets, and photos of cars and obese children illustrated his words. At times (such as the shot of Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream), an image was used to inject humor into what would otherwise be a serious topic.

Blackson’s last slide depicted his children alongside a list of local community plans currently underway. During his last 20 seconds, he spoke of how his kids are more eco-savvy than he is and that the plans in their present form would never inspire children like his to stay in San Diego.

The presentation was over before I’d had my second sip of beer. Six minutes and 40 seconds. Clearly Blackson had put effort into constructing his speech. He’d mixed information and humor to promote a specific viewpoint: urban sprawl is bad, and we need to work together to stop it. The audience (the majority of whom I guessed to be in their 20s and 30s) cheered and applauded.

The first PechaKucha Night ever was held in a Tokyo bar in 2003 — Dytham and Klein wanted creative types to share their ideas in a space conducive to “thinking and drinking.” Now the foundation has satellite salons in 373 cities worldwide, with new cities popping up on the map weekly. As NPR contributor Lucy Craft put it, “Unwittingly, Klein and Dytham seemed to have stumbled across an apparently universal longing of audience members listening to those who pontificate: just get to the point.”

The first PechaKucha in San Diego was held at the Corner Restaurant & Bar on January 20, 2009. According to David McCullough of McCullough Landscape Architecture, two local architects brought the idea to town — Maxine Ward (architect with Studio E Architects and board member of the San Diego Architectural Foundation) and Mike Stepner (former city architect and current professor at NewSchool of Architecture).

“I can’t remember who said it first, but one mentioned [PechaKucha] and the other said that it would be a great thing to start doing in San Diego,” McCullough recalls. “For whatever reason, they thought that I should take it on.” McCullough became responsible for organizing each event, which includes lining up presenters, then collecting and preparing their slides for the timed presentations.

“I do have a small subcommittee of people helping — David Lecours is one, and now he’s our emcee,” says McCullough. “Dave White helps us find presenters and with logistics, like do we want to have a theme, where is our next location, etc.”

Lecours originally heard about PechaKucha from a blog called Presentation Zen, written by a man who lives in Japan. As a member of the San Diego Architectural Foundation, Lecours was among the first to learn about PechaKucha’s San Diego debut. “I was all over it,” he says. “I had recently turned 40 and submitted a presentation called 20+20=40. It was about life lessons that I’d learned to date.” Lecours presented at the first PKSD in January 2009 and a second time in April 2010.

Lecours is no stranger to public speaking. His website’s tagline reads, “Creative Business Coach + Speaker.” His company, LecoursDesign, specializes in marketing and brand communications. In a blog entry written July 20, 2010, Lecours states that speaking is an ideal way to attract clients. “You can make a deeper connection because your audience can experience your thinking in real time.”

Though he’d served as Toastmaster for one of the two local clubs to which he belongs, Lecours was nervous about emceeing. Prior to Lecours, PechaKucha had been emceed by Dave Brown, creator of the San Diego–based “blog for creative inspiration,” Holiday Matinee. In an email following the event, Lecours wrote, “While I’ve presented twice at PKSD, the idea of emceeing scared me. Especially after following Dave Brown, who is both funnier and more charismatic than I am.”

PechaKucha, says Lecours, is a “powerful way to tell stories.” As with Toastmasters, speakers can present on whatever they want, and the length of time allotted is about the same. But there are significant differences. “Toastmasters has more of a professional-education feel, and PechaKucha has more of a stand-up comedy, open-mike feel,” he explains. “This is a perfect example: Toastmasters Del Mar meets in a church hall. PechaKucha meets in a bar. The presenters at Toastmasters run the spectrum of professionals, [while] PechaKucha tends to draw presenters in the visual arts: architects, planners, designers, photographers, and fine artists.”

After Blackson’s presentation, Lecours regained the mike. He introduced Myles McGuinness, a friend from North County. After working for 15 years in advertising and branding as a designer and art director, McGuinness was now “behind the lens as a photographer.” He’d titled his presentation “Saltwater Connects Us All.”

In an email, Lecours explained that his favorite type of PechaKucha presentation is one that tells a story. “Building a narrative of connected slides is compelling. The combination of visual plus voice creates a result greater than the sum of the parts. In other words, the presenter needs to provide compelling meaning beyond what the audience can glean from the visual.”

Lecours’s least favorite thing is when speakers read from their notes. “It’s painful to watch the audience tune out,” he says. “The speakers would be better served to post their transcript online and let people read it. I also dislike when presenters don’t rehearse. Twenty seconds can go by in a flash or be an eternity, depending on if the presenter has practiced using timed slides.”

Lecours would have done McGuinness a service if he’d shared this information prior to his friend’s slide show. As the first image appeared, positive utterances from the audience indicated that McGuinness’s photos of waves and people surfing were visually pleasing. But the accompanying words were the opposite of Lecours’s description of the ideal.

As each slide appeared, McGuinness described it, as in “This is an abstract image of a girl longboarding in pink.” (She was wearing pink.) He’d recite the title if there was one, comment on the weather the day he took the image, then stand in silence for the remaining 15 or so seconds allotted to the slide. At one point, waiting for the slides to change, he muttered, “That’s a long 20 seconds.” Polite audience members offered encouragement and complimented the image. For the duration of his presentation, McGuinness stood facing the screen, clutching the mike in one hand and a glass of beer in the other.

The sole woman on the organizing team is executive director of the San Diego Architectural Foundation, Leslee Schaffer. In 2008, after the board expressed interest in producing the event, Schaffer applied to have SDAF serve as the official San Diego chapter of PechaKucha Night. All chapter applicants must answer a questionnaire and explain why they would be a good fit for the PechaKucha family. They must also commit to running the event as a nonprofit activity before a “handshake” agreement is made. There is no fee, but chapters are encouraged to donate to the PechaKucha Foundation, money that goes toward paying for website development and staffing costs. For each chapter to maintain its status, the handshake must be renewed annually.

I met with Schaffer at Analog Bar downtown in the weeks prior to October’s PechaKucha Night. She looked casual but chic in a brown tank top with a sequin-embroidered neckline and beige jeans; dangling from a chain around her neck was a silver circle the size of a dime on which the word “Imagine” was engraved. At 40-something, Schaffer has the disposition of a bright-eyed grad student who believes she can save the whales by requesting no straw with her glass of water.

“If I had to describe PechaKucha in two words, they would be ‘stimulating’ and ‘concise,’” Schaffer said. When her cocktail arrived, she disposed of her gum in a napkin, took a sip, then continued. “The beauty is, people aren’t lecturing — they’re forced to give us the important stuff. It’s very social and informative.” In addition to assisting McCullough with selecting speakers, Schaffer maintains the website (the foundation provides a template for each chapter, on which can be posted event locations, dates, and the speaker lineup).

Though she describes the inaugural night as “one of the best nights of my life,” Schaffer admits things got off to a shaky start. “When setting up, one of the AV guys fell off the ladder and broke both his wrists. We called 911, he was given morphine, then we carried on after the ambulance took him away.”

The event featured ten presenters, including David Lecours, Maxine Ward, Kinsee Morlan of CityBeat, Gregory Strangman of the Pearl Hotel, and a few city planners and architects. That evening and since, the subject matter has been weighted heavily toward architecture and planning. This makes sense not only because of the origin of PechaKucha, but also because presenters learn about the event by word of mouth, and people naturally network with those in the same profession.

In Schaffer’s “perfect PechaKucha world,” the content would be 25 percent architecture, 25 percent “other forms of planning or urban design,” 25 percent other forms of art, and 25 percent “baking bread,” by which she means passion. Schaffer coined the phrase the evening of July 20, 2009, when architect Peter Soutowood presented a 20-by-20 about his personal quest to bake the best bread.

Soutowood introduced a third element of sensual experience — taste — to presentations often based solely on sight and sound. When he finished speaking about types of loaves and the process of baking, Soutowood passed around a basket of ciabatta he’d made. “We recognize that everybody’s selling something in some way, shape, or form,” says Schaffer. “But he was just there to express his passion for baking bread.”

The only subjects that are off limits, according to Schaffer, are sales presentations and porn. “One company sent us what was literally their sales pitch. We said, ‘We’re sorry, that’s not what PechaKucha is about.’ We don’t want to have advertisements.”

“The presentations that are sales pitches never work,” says McCullough. “People see right through them, even when [presenters] are trying to be creative. A while back, we had a guy from a reprographics company present on the use of color in graphic presentations so they print well. I found it fascinating and helpful, but the bottom line was that he was trying to sell his print services — people saw it as sales-pitchy. That kind of stuff flops.”

When pressed to pick her least favorite presentation, Schaffer recalls one that came across as “condescending.” The talk, given by Felena Hanson, was about social media, her slides mostly composed of snapshots taken from various personal profiles on social-media outlets like LinkedIn and Facebook.

Dave Brown, who emceed that night, remembers Hanson’s presentation. “Why make it about yourself?” he said. “It should be about giving to others, not scoring new leads for your business. When people use Facebook, or any medium just to promote, that’s not someone I would want to work with. I applaud her for having the balls to get up there. But I do remember that presentation and feeling, like, ugh. It wasn’t interesting, and the intentions were weak.”

I contacted Hanson, who happens to be among my Facebook friends. “I had never been to an architectural-foundation meeting or any PechaKucha event,” she said. “It’s not a community I typically run with.” It was McCullough’s wife who asked Hanson to present. “The architectural-development community is weighted toward the male population.” McCullough’s wife told Hanson that she had been charged with finding a “smart woman” to present. “I don’t want to say I was the token woman, but I kind of felt like that.”

Hanson found presenting on anything to be a challenge. “I went online and watched YouTube clips to try to get a better idea [for topics]. One guy [a previous presenter] got in a car accident and shared pictures — they were very off-topic presentations, which I thought was kind of odd. If someone’s going to go to that type of event, you want to get some value out of it.”

Hanson profiled her prospective audience based on what she knew of her friend’s colleagues. “In general, in the development and architectural community, it’s an older segment — you need a considerable amount of education to get into that field.” Hanson assumed the majority of her audience would be ignorant of the importance of online branding, a relatively new concept, so she decided to present some of the tips she might give at one of her local networking groups. “In my business, I meet men and women in their 40s and 50s, and the classic comment is, ‘I don’t get all that [social-networking stuff], what is that.’”

When teaching at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, or presenting for the SCORE Women’s Breakfast, Hanson can expound for up to an hour; she prefers to make presentations interactive. “In PechaKucha, you’re unable to do that. I struggled with what value I could provide these 100–150 people in six minutes — something they can learn from and take from, as opposed to ‘my car accident.’”

The automatic timing of the slides proved difficult for Hanson, who had wrongly assumed she’d have control over the mouse. “I thought I was going to be able to advance faster on one, maybe spend 25 seconds on another,” she said. “It’s easier when you’re presenting to control that timing, to be able to tell a quick story before you have to advance to the next slide. That was the biggest challenge — it was 20 seconds and you’re on to the next slide. When I was done, I was, like, that was terrible, I totally hated it. It wasn’t comfortable for me, but I had people approach me after and say they enjoyed it.”

Hanson does not expect to return to a PechaKucha night. “For me, and I hope it doesn’t sound selfish, but I’m always making sure that where I’m spending my time is going to be valuable for making any kind of connection.”

Back at the Whistle Stop, I spotted Stacy Keck, who was in line to present that evening, and waved. A budget analyst, Keck hopes one day to be supported by her budding side gig as a photographer. “I can’t stand my job,” she admits. “I stare at spreadsheets all day, it’s kind of torture. That’s why I search out things like PechaKucha, to supplement and inspire my creativity.”

Keck learned about the event from Dave Brown, who is both a friend and her “creative mentor.” She’s attended nearly all the presentations since Brown’s first night emceeing in April 2009.

“Sometimes it’s a great collection [of presenters], sometimes not,” Keck said. “One that stands out was an engineer, a woman who spoke about ten seconds per slide — you’re supposed to speak for 20 seconds — and she just kind of stood there, and there was all this dead air. It was a little uncomfortable for everybody, secondhand embarrassment to the max. My goal is to not do that.”

When we first spoke, Keck had yet to choose her topic. “It will definitely have something to do with photography and things that inspire me,” she said. “I’m not big on tooting my own horn, especially since I’ve only been doing this for about a year. But I’d like to show other people’s work that inspires me to go out and make some awesome.” Keck’s biggest concern? “Filling that 20 seconds.”

Though Brown had tried to get Keck to present before, it wasn’t until his going-away party at the Starlite lounge (a few days before he moved to New York to head up the social-media department for the internet craft market Etsy) that Keck, prodded by Schaffer, finally agreed. Now, with a drink in her hand and a few friends beside her, Keck didn’t seem nervous as she awaited her turn onstage.

The third presenter was a painter and graphic designer named Skye Walker, who livened up the room with a lighthearted, energetic, and autobiographical presentation called “Art Shows, Collaborations, and a Family Band.” With his plaid shirt, dark jeans, straight blond hair, and full beard, he could have been a cast member on That Seventies Show. The first image was of Walker as a kid, banjo in hand, with the rest of his family band, who traveled and sang to children about the benefits of being green. The rest of his slides varied from shots of installations in galleries to close-up images of his paintings, while he provided descriptions and background information. He wrapped it up by saying he tries to coordinate his work with environmental and human causes because he finds it fulfilling when his artwork goes toward helping people he normally couldn’t help on his own.

A half hour into the evening, three of the eight presenters had finished. It was now Keck’s turn. While introducing her, Lecours mentioned the ongoing discussion taking place on Twitter. Each PechaKucha Night has its own Twitter hashtag, which culls related tweets onto one page. That evening’s hashtag was #PKSD9. Every time someone tweeted using the hashtag, the comment would appear on the discussion page. Lecours revealed to the audience that, a moment earlier, Keck had tweeted “Liquid courage.” He then read the introduction Keck provided: “She used to play with snails, make friendship bracelets, and travel to faraway lands. She still does all those things, but now she does them with her camera.”

At 28, Keck was the youngest presenter of the evening, and the only woman. “Thank you, liquid courage,” she said, upon taking the mike. Her first slide — a cartoon of a runaway cubicle — was already up, so she launched into an explanation of how she’s in the process of running away from her day job toward photography. “I’m always on the lookout for inspiration, and tonight I’m here to share that with you.”

Keck appeared relaxed as she spoke, and the crowd responded to her humor. When she transitioned from a photo of Megan Fox kissing a look-alike mannequin (which she described as “Yeah, fucking hot, right?”) to an image of Matt Dillon taken in 1980, she earned hoots of approval.

“I practiced a lot,” she later told me. “I wrote out everything I wanted to say on cards, and I didn’t even end up using them. It all just came to me once I was up there.” While practicing, she figured that one or two sentences seemed to take about 20 seconds to say. “The time really didn’t end up being as much of an issue as I thought it might be.”

Following Keck onto the stage would be Josh Higgins. When Keck learned he would be presenting at the same event, she was beside herself. “Josh Higgins? Yikes, he’s totally one of my heroes. He’s just super talented and really inspiring and the nicest guy you will meet. Oh, my God, so cool.” Keck had met Higgins through the San Diego chapter of AIGA, the professional association for design.

This would be Higgins’s second time presenting at PKSD. The first was February 20, 2010, when the PechaKucha Foundation staged a global fund-raiser to benefit victims of the earthquake in Haiti. That event featured three speakers. Live streaming video took their presentations international on the foundation’s website. Instead of the usual $5, the suggested donation was $20. Nearly $80,000 for Haiti was raised ($1500 of that came from San Diego).

Higgins is a freelance designer and creative director at Departure, an advertising agency downtown. In 2007, he organized the So-Cal Fire Poster Project, enlisting designers to create posters sold to benefit victims of the fires. Three days after the earthquake in Haiti, he joined with Leif Steiner (who organized the Hurricane Poster Project for victims of Hurricane Katrina) to create the Haiti Poster Project. All proceeds go to Doctors Without Borders.

Schaffer heard an interview Higgins gave to Dave Brown on Legit Radio (a short-lived, San Diego–based online station) and invited Higgins to present at PechaKucha’s Haiti fund-raiser.

At first, Higgins thought the format sounded easy. “Twenty slides, 20 seconds, that’s nothing,” he said. “But when I started getting into it, I really had to think about what I was going to say about each piece — it had to be poignant. I practiced like [Schaffer] told me to. I did it about five times, then got bored. And thought, Okay, I think I have a good general idea of what I’m going to talk about, and I’m going to not practice anymore, I feel like I would be a robot.”

After what turned out to be a successful fund-raising event, Schaffer told Higgins she would love for him to return with an update. “It’s grown enormously,” Higgins says of the project. “We had about 50 artists involved, and now we have over 500 around the world. The Library of Congress contacted us to save one of each poster for their archives.” His goal for his follow-up presentation was “to get more people aware and involved.”

Higgins stepped forward to accept the mike. He wore blue jeans, a short-sleeved black shirt that revealed tattoos on his forearms, a beret, and black-and-white Converse shoes. After thanking the organizers, Higgins jumped in with his first slide — a compilation of logos — and orally listed his clients. He segued into the poster projects, how he became involved with them, and how much money each had raised.

The room was silent as Higgins, soft-spoken and subdued, outlined his portfolio. With a few seconds to spare at the end of his sixth slide, he said, “I’m really nervous, I’m sorry.” The audience erupted with applause and encouraging comments. The mood in the room loosened, and for the rest of his talk Higgins was more animated.

The next speaker, Glen Schmidt, returned to PechaKucha’s architectural roots with a presentation called “Landscape Architects Are Going to Save the World.” Schmidt, an athletic man with a shaved head and trimmed, gray goatee, started his San Diego-based firm, Schmidt Design Group Inc., in 1983.

Schmidt had emailed the PechaKucha website and David McCullough, whom he knew, to ask if he could present. “I’m always thinking about things I want to say to the world,” Schmidt told me during a phone call prior to his presentation. “This was a great opportunity, there are no constraints. I want to talk about my profession, about landscape architects. We’re the architects of survival. We’re improving water quality and air quality and reducing the amount of energy we use. The trails we create fight obesity. Studies show that when people have a connection with nature and landscape, it improves their health.” Schmidt planned to share statistics. “Before the automobile came along, we used to walk everywhere. The average 11-year-old is way heavier today than they were just 20 or 30 years ago.” Schmidt hoped his presentation would get people to “look at ways in which we can improve our communities with bike trails and walking trails, like the Coastal Rail Trail in Solana Beach,” which Schmidt’s company designed.

During his presentation, Schmidt used humor to make points about the importance of landscape architecture and health, such as one image of overweight people riding a short escalator to reach the door to their gym. While the last slide was up (images of landscaping projects over which cartoon male and female superheroes flew), Schmidt noted that 50 percent of landscape architects are women.

I grew nervous as the next presenter — my husband David, another Schaffer recruit — was announced, mostly because I knew he was nervous. While David waited on the sidelines, Lecours outlined his accomplishments and admitted to having an “artistic crush” on my man’s work.

For his presentation, David whittled down an hour-long talk he gives at galleries and museums about the role time plays in our perception of the world and in his own work as a photographic artist. He spent weeks practicing. The toughest part was choosing which information from his hour-long talk to leave out. At first he was stressed about the forced editing. But as he deleted and condensed, David realized not everything in his original talk was necessary.

As I watched him present the distilled version, the brilliance of the PechaKucha format was finally visible to me. David could only offer his most crucial points, but by doing so, each element seemed more profound. There was no filler, no opportunity for wandering eyes. As Lecours said at one point between presenters, “How cool would it be if everything was like that?” From business meetings to sermons, he said, “I’m proposing the PechaKucha format — just the essence.”

When David was finished, as with most of the other presenters, there was a sense of wanting more. Keck had told me how many people approached her after she spoke, wanting to exchange contact information.

“That’s the beauty of it,” says Dave Brown, who hopes to become involved in a PechaKucha night in New York. “I love being exposed to new ideas. The things I find interesting, I share them, tweet them, Facebook them, then go to another city and share. That’s how we grow, connecting to new ideas through presentations and connecting to new people. As someone who’s plugged in to the tech and social-media world, it’s important to make sure you also deliver offline results, and you’ve got to unplug to do that.”

Most people who attend PechaKucha are drawn to the precision of the format. The last presenter of the evening, Nathan Lee Colkitt, was not likely one of them. All the other presenters had stood, but Colkitt sat on the ledge outside the DJ booth and pulled up a table, on which he placed a stack of papers. A mélange of electronic beeps, gongs, and toy-piano notes sounded from the speakers. Confused looks were exchanged by people in the crowd.

“I usually speak extemporaneously,” said Colkitt, “but tonight I’m going to attempt to read this. I like to do this backwards. The slides are going to be extemporaneous, the reading I’m going to attempt to do methodically.”

As Colkitt — a dark-haired, 30-something architect — read what sounded like a meandering but poetic journal entry (e.g., “There are times when the answers are clear to the fuzzy questions lurking in the dark regions of my mind…. My tools make sense of the inhumanity, paint, the darkness of life”), clips of Flash video appeared on the screen behind him.

“[Colkitt’s presentation] definitely didn’t fit the format,” McCullough said, when I spoke with him the week after the event. “To some degree, you need to stick to the rules, but there’s room for trying new things. We’ve been trying to incorporate multimedia stuff.” After he was confirmed as a presenter, Colkitt emailed photographs and Adobe Flash files containing slowly moving images that look like abstract wire-cage vector graphics. “I called him up and said, ‘Hey, what are you doing here, I don’t get this,’” McCullough recalls. “He said, ‘I’d really like to do this with Flash.’ Nathan does a sort of interesting, contemporary architecture. [His presentation] had something to do with the design of space and how people feel about space once it’s been designed.”

“It was kind of the odd one out,” Keck said, when I asked what she thought of Colkitt’s presentation. “It surprised me, but that’s what’s great about this — you never know what to expect.”

A few days after presenting, Colkitt described to me how he came to be involved with PechaKucha. “I’m good friends with Don Hollis [co-owner of Subtext Gallery and creative director of Hollis Brand Culture], and he’d presented before. He recommended us to Leslee, threw our name in the stack of many names of people who could [present]. Then Leslee asked if we would do it, and we were happy to do it.”

When I asked who he meant by “we,” Colkitt responded, “I use the imperial ‘we’ when referring to any of my work. I don’t have a partner.”

Colkitt’s presentation — both the Flash files and the writing — was created ten years ago. “Those were printed pages from my first portfolio. I didn’t even have to print them, I just dug them up out of a box.”

Colkitt explained, “I take whatever the format is and try to do the exact opposite of what you’re supposed to do. It’s fun to take something and turn it upside down to expose it for what it is.” When asked to clarify what he meant by this, Colkitt said, “When you put something in the mirror, you see it in reverse — the inverse of what you were seeing before — and it puts emphasis on the words and makes you think a bit, hopefully.”

When Colkitt was finished, Lecours retrieved the mike and said, “Thank you, Nathan. Whoa.” The resulting energetic laughter seemed to cut the tension among the baffled audience.

Later, as people mingled and drank, Schaffer, in a little black dress and black knee-high boots, was all smiles. “In terms of consistent, fun, and interesting, this [night] was right up there in our top three,” she said. Regarding Colkitt’s presentation, Schaffer said, “That wasn’t very 20-by-20. That was just ongoing. I don’t think we’ll do that again. It’s off the format, and PechaKucha is all about the format.” ■

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Blackson, a nice, chubby, friendly neighbor, lives and works in North Park, not South Park. He makes money by selling urbanization plans. Google him and "Ramona," for an idea of what he does in these lean times for architects. You might not find it so cool.

For two reasons, he has inserted himself in the Greater Golden Hill Community Plan Update, even though he doesn't live in the district.

1) He has joined a group of SP and GH realtors, developers, and business owners south of Juniper who support and promote the City's pending change of Land Use Code that allows building of second units on single-family residential parcels. Good business for them, bad for the rest of us who don't want infill and density in our quiet neighborhoods.

2) He has joined with the SP Business Group (realtors and business owners) in asking the City to take a part of Greater North Park (where Blackson lives) north of Juniper and place it in Greater Golden Hill, so that the SPBG fans can be said to be located in "South Park" (they already claim that, when they can, but they are all North Parkers)- mainly to create a Business Improvement District along 30th, that certain SP people can control.

@Sara, thank you! The next PechaKucha event is NEXT THURSDAY at Quality Social downtown. I'll be on NBC/KNSD News in the Morning tomorrow at 6:45 a.m. to discuss this piece and offer a taste of what it's like!

I came across this story after Googling my name...

Sorry that Ms. Barbarella didn't enjoy my presentation. Speaking isn't my strong suit, at least it sounded like you enjoyed the images. You left points of my presentation that I felt were more personal & story telling in the presentation– such as my head being split open by my water housing or the pain and fear of swimming out in 48 degree water at dawn on a cold winters morning. Oh well, maybe next time you can interview me as you did for some of the other participants. It's all good. Cheers and good on ya.

Good to go- Myles McGuinness

I read this long story and I want at least my 6 minutes and 40 seconds back. If people can't sell something at these, why bother? Sounds like a waste of time. A mutual admiration society for bored people who want to meet, share photoshopped power-points and have an excuse to drink on a weeknight.

I'm sorry some felt my presentation at PechaKucha was condescending or self promoting. My intention was in no way to drum up business, but was simply to present a concept that I thought would be helpful: the importance of building an online presence. My slides were meant to demonstrate that through telling my personal story of online branding… the message being - be passionate about what you do, get involved in your local community, and your brand will build from there. Welcome to take a peek at http://slidesha.re/hhSZs9

Clearly I was not able to convey that message in 6 minutes, which perhaps means I’m a bad presenter… so be it. I was sort of thrown into the line-up last minute and was unsure what content would be valuable to the community. Obviously I should have attended an event before agreeing to present.

Perhaps I might be invited back some day (doubt it) to present on a project I’m also passionate about… http://www.ArtMeetsFashion.org.

Felena, I was at the Pecha Kucha where you presented, and thought that you had the right kind of energy. My friend even commented to me how although she's tech savvy, until seeing your talk, hadn't realized how many social networking and marketing outlets exist.

I didn't feel like your talk was simple self-promotion. Rather it was more telling people "this is the world we live in now, and (whether you like it or not) you have online presence so you may as well manage "you" as a brand." Designing "you" is design even if it doesn't involve architectural structures, and therefore topical to the content of Pecha Kucha.

Felena, I'd like to look at your presentation. But when I cliked on your link it directed to a log-in for LinkedUp. I don't use LinkedUp. Is that the only way to view it?

Also, I wouldn't get too worked up over "PechaKucha." Many Japanese fads wash ashore in the U.S., few (like karaoke) stick around.

Ponzi - We encourage you to attend a PechaKucha Night, and bet you'd find that passion and creativity are much more compelling than sales pitches.

Felina - haven't had time to respond to your note but have most definitely not forgotten. For now though, thank you. We'd be most pleased to have you back to hear about Art Meets Fashion!

For everyone interested in checking it out, here's the 411 on San Diego's next PechaKucha Night, Volume 10, coming up next Thursday night:

Facebook event page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/event.php?eid=174021009302506.

For info on presenting, etc.check out the PKN page on San Diego Architectural Foundation site: http://www.sdarchitecture.org/pecha-kucha-night

International PKN site: http://www.pecha-kucha.org/night/san-diego/10

Hope to see you there!

Leslee, you might be right. I used to enjoy bowling. Got to hang out with friends. The best part was the game. Throw the ball, sit down have a beer, throw the ball again, sit down and have another beer. At a PechaKucha Night I don't even have to stand up and throw the ball, just sit there and drink beer.

Leslee, you might be right. I used to enjoy bowling. Got to hang out with friends. The best part was the game

When I was going to school in East Lansing MI, the big thing to do on the weekends (zero degrees outside and 5 feet of snow) was go bowling, 20 or 30 of us- we loved it, so much.

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