The “Skinny” on PechaKucha

by Nina Lesiga (c)

I was at a Story event in New Haven, CT that had a name that I couldn’t pronounce. It was thrilling, immersive and the official start of my journey to becoming a Storyteller.

I was attending PechaKucha concise and visual telling that originated in Tokyo in 2003 and is now in 1000 cities world wide. PechaKucha means “chit chat” in Japanese and is pronounced “Petch-aa Koo-chaa” or “Petch-aa Kaa-chaa”.

Ten experienced and first time Tellers share 400 seconds stories. They submit a sequence of 20 images ahead of time that play 20 seconds each. The focus for PechaKucha Night is brevity, building community and having fun. These dynamic, novel and highly social events are often held in eclectic places where beer and wine are available.

I’ve learned that I can use PechaKucha as a lens to view stories that I tell at traditional story events.  My recent story for the PechaKucha Night in New Haven, Connecticut is named “Uncovered.” It’s about an adventure I took in January 2015 to New York City. I participated in the annual “No Pants Subway Ride.” It’s that international day of silliness where people board a subway train and take off their pants as a prank. That day I took a leap out of my comfort zone!

I originally created “Uncovered” as a “Moth” style story – a true story told without notes that includes a hurdle, stakes, an insight and resolution. The phrase, “Moth style story” comes from the infamous Moth Radio Hour and live Moth Storytelling Events.

For me to transform my “Uncovered” story into a PechaKucha meant whittling down the 8 minute story to exactly 6 minute and 40 seconds. My process was to identify 20 key points and to hand write one key point on each of 20 index cards. Then I added 2 or 3 details to each card.

I selected twenty photographs. They were a combination of my own and royalty free ones. I used one photograph to illustrate the content on each card. Since the photos will project onto a large screen, they needed to be a certain resolution as defined by the event organizer. Instead of photos some people use hand drawn images.

I created a slide show of the 20 images with each image shown for 20 seconds. Using my index cards as a guide I spoke around 3 sentences for each slide. I made adjustments where needed to get the timing right. I told the story without any notes on PechaKucha Night.

The limitations of PechaKucha gifted me new insights about balancing details with fluidity and rhythm. Word economy and the photos helped me quickly bring the audience alongside me as I told the story. When the audience reacted, I nimbly adjusted the story to allow them a bit of my “air time”.

Have you attended a PechaKucha as a Teller or Listener? I would love to hear your experiences and views!
There are a number of PechaKucha cities in the Northeast. Upcoming opportunities include events scheduled for Portland (July 27th) and Bangor (August 18th).

Here are some more of the Pechakucha cities in Northeastern United States according to

Maine – Bangor, Brunswick, Biddleford, Kennebunkport, Portland, Waterville
Massachusetts – Boston, Fitchburg, Jaffrey, Martha’s Vineyard, Pittsfield
New Hampshire – Manchester, Portsmouth
New York – Albany, Beacon, Brooklyn, Buffalo. Garrison. Hamptons
Rhode Island – Providence
Vermont – Burlington, Brattleboro, Manchester

Nina Lesiga’s passion is Storytelling for empowerment and self discovery. She tells true stories of uncommon adventures in her home state of Connecticut. She attended “Sharing the Fire” 2017 as one of the New Storyteller Scholarship recipients. She’s performed at five PechaKucha events in addition to Storytelling events for true stories in Middletown, Hartford, New Haven, New London and Cos Cob, CT.

To learn more about Nina, visit her website at

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