Speaking at PechaKucha Manchester

John Cooper at PechaKucha Manchester 2022

I was invited to give a talk at PechaKucha Manchester recently. It's a speaking format using 20 slides, and 20 seconds on each slide, to give a talk of around 6 minutes...pretty tight.

I chose to speak about my near 20 years in comedy and try and condense it right down. My relocating to Manchester years ago to make a go of stand-up. Getting a comedy agent, taking up improv, performing at the Edinburgh festival and going on tour support around the country with comedians far more well-known than myself!

It was a liberating talk to give. I'd not given it much thought before suggesting the idea and it was a nice way to reaffirm my personal history. I'm often so busy thinking about my next project that perhaps I don't always acknowledge the skill of my experience that I should give myself credit for.

Pecha Kucha is a global format which takes place all over the world. The event I attended had scientists, engineers, clothing manufacturers, climate change specialists and me, I might have felt a little out of place, but on refl,ection I wasn't. Stand-up comedy is a very niche career choice.

I was also challenged by Kyle the organiser to give a second talk completely improvised, without any knowledge of the slides. Of course I relished it, as to me that's a 'no pressure gig'.

One of the other speakers commented on how terrifying the idea of an improvised talk was. From my perspective, it's just fun.
I think it's still very much an issue that some folks aren't comfortable speaking in public. PechaKutcha was really supportive and a great platform for that.

I hope to change that perception in the training I do, I'm currently promoting a talk on improvisation.

Building on my TEDx Talk in July, I go to teams and companies who are perhaps a little intimidated by improv. Instead of a workshop with participants, the talk, explains the benefits of improv, for work andfor fun, in a way I hope will understand and encourage teams to try improve themselves and build the brain muscle skills that I now take for granted. Just saying 'Yes, and'.

John Cooper
Comedian & artist.
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