Pecha Kucha 11 varied topics presented by the community

In Paris Lectures
We held our latest Paris Lecture (number 13!) last week, during which we hosted 12 brave speakers on eleven different topics. Presentations ran the gamut from music, literacy and personal family stories. We laughed, we learned, and yep, we even cried.

In a somewhat unusual format for Paris Lectures (we normally host a single creative topic and one person’s body of work) we opened the floor to the community. After a short window for submissions, we selected eleven talks to be presented in the Pecha Kucha format – 20 slides automatically progressing after 20 seconds, for a total of six minutes and forty seconds. Long enough to scratch the surface of a topic in an interesting way. Short enough to hold an audience’s attention. We have both given Pecha Kucha presentations in the past which we found to be both challenging and rewarding; constraints like these are fantastic for creative endeavours and typically improve the quality of writing, speaking and design.

Our love of Pecha Kucha talks stemmed from a series our friend Vivien ran in Toronto. Each month, a hodge podge of speakers would stand up in front of a bar full of people to talk about whatever compelled them, often resulting in humorous, insightful, and even cringeworthy presentations. The audience got to dip their toes into foreign subject matters and the speaker got to share their passion. One of our all-time favourites was a girl’s “glacier research project” where she talked about designing special hats and clothing in order to speak to the glaciers.

Alison Adam presenting at Paris Lectures
Alison Adam presenting at Paris Lectures

At these events, we realized the speakers’ level of skills at speaking in front of others often didn’t matter. But their story did. Stories move people. We wanted to hear Paris’ stories.

We weren’t sure about the idea at first – Would people want to adhere to that format? Could we find enough speakers? – so earlier this spring we tested the waters with our Creative Show & Tell. We had 18 presenters sharing 13 projects and so many people in the audience spilling out the door, sitting on tables, or (sadly) leaving the venue because there was no space for them. It was popular beyond our wildest imagination. For us, the results of that event reinforced the idea that we could pull off a Pecha Kucha night later in the year. (It also prompted us to seek out a larger venue.) Now, we think we might be able to host Pecha Kucha presentations once every six months or so.

We warned each of our speakers that the Pecha Kucha speaking format is a challenge. As Chris Bodegraven told us prior to game day, the talk format is 20/20/20 – “20 slides, 20 seconds, and 20 times harder than I thought it would be!” It isn’t easy to edit yourself so that you say only what is essential, and it certainly isn’t easy to do that to an unforgiving timer. But, each presentation completely exceeded our expectations. We were inspired (“It’s a hill, get over it.” –Dan Namisniak, Brant Death Racers), humbled (“There are 53 other cities around the world named Paris,” –John Bell), and moved (Mary Cope, nervous, proceeded to wow the audience with a deeply personal story of losing the family home and business in the flooding of the St Lawrence river).

We are so grateful to have been able to facilitate this rare opportunity to hear stories from others in our community.

Ella Haley & Richard Tunstall
Ella Haley & Richard Tunstall

We’d like to thank Millards Chartered Accountants for supporting our lecture series as our first corporate sponsor. We are so grateful for your support! Thanks so much for allowing us to keep doing what we do (and for keeping our own finances straight, to boot).

We’ve uploaded each of the speakers’ slides below onto SpeakerDeck for your reference. Enjoy. (The whole deck with our intro slides is here)

Our next event will be November 30th with the uber talented master weaver, Deborah Briggs. Sign up for our mailing list and follow us on Twitter and Facebook to be the first to know when tickets are released. See you all next month!

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