By now, you’ve likely practiced a great deal and have gone through several practice runs. While I’d like to say don’t worry and try not to think about the event… I know I didn’t fare very well. Throughout the day of, I was pretty nervous and things just got a worse as the evening (and start time) drew near.
On the day of, there aren’t really a lot of things that can be done. At this point all the slides are in, and IMO it’s risky to make dramatic alterations to your talk, last minute. If you’re really nervous, consider using your morning and evening commutes to practice, or go over your talk during lunch. Try (hard as it is) not to think too much about it.
At the Event
Try arriving at the event site a little early. Perhaps meeting with some of the other speakers will help take your mind off of things, prior to your taking the stage. Or, if you were like me, getting there early gave me a chance to get a bit more comfortable with the space.
Try not to drink before you talk. This may seem self-evident, but try to avoid drinking (too much) prior to your talk. By all means, order a stiff drink afterwards… but try to hold off as much as you can, beforehand.
One drink can easily lead to a few drinks, particularly when you just want to “settle your nerves.” Consider this: how terrible would it be for you to slur your words on stage? All your hard work and prep, undone by a few too many drinks prior to.
I say this as a big fan of the sauce: save the boozing for afterwards. It’ll taste that much sweeter.
Volunteer to go early. For me, until I finished my talk… I was a ball of nervousness. If possible, check with the event organizer and see about getting an early slot. There are many good reasons for speaking early, but the major reason to me is that you can get your talk completed… and spend the rest of the time basking in your great performance, and enjoying the other speakers on the bill.
The crowd is on your side. Intensity and passion are things that can be felt by the audience. The crowds at Pecha Kucha are there to cheer you on, and everyone’s there to get excited, to get inspired together.
Remember that this isn’t you getting in front of a class, giving a report on Lincoln’s presidency. You’re talking about what interests you, what you’re passionate about. You’re sharing that with the crowd, and they’re eager to hear what you have to say. You came here willingly and the crowd came here, willingly. It’s not a you-versus-them thing, it’s a together thing.
Slow and steady. As you start your talk, recognize you’re nervous and that there’s probably a lot of adrenalin in your system. Try to consciously slow things down. Try to make sure you’re speaking clearly and that you’re not just zooming through your slides.
If you finish a particular slide a bit ahead of schedule, it’s ok to pause in wait for the next slide to appear. Consider using the pause to look around and make eye contact (see below).
Try to make eye contact. Hopefully this doesn’t throw you off your game too much. And hopefully you practiced looking around a bit, when you were doing your dry runs.
A big part of speaking is engaging the audience, and scanning the room making eye contact with people helps tremendously in this regard. If you’re too nervous, don’t worry about locking eyes with individuals… but try looking to different areas of the room as you talk.
This is a particularly tricky thing, especially if you haven’t tried it out beforehand. I’d definitely recommend adding this to your practice runs so that you’ll be a bit more comfortable with this, prior to the event.
Bring business cards. People from the audience will likely come up to talk with you after your presentation (particularly if you did a good job). In addition to the well-wishers and pats on the back, many folks may be interested in setting up meetings with you or exchanging information.
Make sure to have some contact info or business cards handy. Anything, so long as it has your phone number, email, or URL on it. At the very least, have some paper and a pencil on hand.
That’s pretty much all the advice I have. If you’re interested in more presentation advice, check out Garr Reynolds’ site for some great tips (I referenced his pages a lot, when doing my own prep work).
I hope these pages were of some help to you, or at the very least helped you see what goes on behind the scenes of a Pecha Kucha talk. The following two sections don’t really have any tips or advice, and are more just media assets: the slides themselves and some videos of my talk.
If you came across this guide while prepping for your talk, I’d love to hear how things went. Preparing for Pecha Kucha was unlike any other kind of presentation I’ve done before, and I found it to be a fascinating process.
Good luck to you, as you put yours together… and feel free to drop a line, as I’m curious to hear all about it.