Pecha Kucha Night Minneapolis St. Paul Volume 2


by Erica Mauter | August 13, 2009 • I attended Volume 2 of Pecha Kucha Night Minneapolis St. Paul last night at The Lab Theater. is a cityblog for and about life in the Twin Cities, published by Erica Mauter. Contact

What is Pecha Kucha Night?

Each presenter is allowed 20 images, each shown for 20 seconds each – giving 6 minutes 40 seconds of fame before the next presenter is up. This keeps presentations concise, the interest level up, and gives more people the chance to show.

And it’s pronounced “pe-chak-cha.” “Pecha Kucha” is derived from the Japanese word for conversation.

For the techie crowd that may already be familiar with Ignite, it’s the same style only you get 20 seconds per slide instead of 15.

What I love about this event is that it’s not all the same people I usually see at techie (slash-social media, slash-journalism) events. While both Pecha Kucha Night (PKN) and Ignite define themselves as being open to presentations on all sorts of topics (and both provide free beer), Ignite says its “events skew toward the geeky and wonkish” while PKN is more geared towards creatives. Having watched every one of the 20-ish presentations from the last Ignite Minneapolis, I was familiar with perhaps all but one or two of the topics presented. At PKN, I was only vaguely familiar with three of the 12 topics presented.

But it’s not fair to talk about PKN solely in relation to Ignite. So that’s enough of that.

Like I mentioned, PKN is geared towards creatives. That means a much higher proportion of presentations with great visuals and no bullet points. There was a huge range of topics, which I loved. Art, architecture, science, design, pop culture (home and abroad), environment, engineering. I counted one brown woman, three white women, and nine white men (just sayin’).

Since I was unfamiliar with a lot of the subject matter, I found myself a lot more cognizant of the style and ability of the presenters.

The Lab Theater was a fantastic venue for this event. It’s a big open space, several stories high, with rough-finished walls. It effectively held the crowd of several hundred, the stage and screen with rear projection, the DJ, the official tech guy/presentation timer, some funky glowy lighting, great sound, and a cash bar.

I really like the concept and the aesthetic of this event. My one gripe is a logistical one. It was not at all clear in all the communications I saw that the schedule was “doors at 7, program at 8.” I hauled ass to get there on time and was really confused to see a long line of people out the door at 7:00. Upon entering I saw a handwritten sign stating “doors at 7, program at 8″ on the door of The Lab. We went inside and seated ourselves and at about 7:20 an announcement was made that the program didn’t start until 8 and we could get drinks and mingle or even go back outside. There was audible grumbling all around.

Also, the hosts of the event introduced each speaker in a somewhat rambly fashion. If the presentation format is designed to keep it tight, let’s keep the whole program tight. The unexpected late start combined with an unexpected 30-minute intermission meant a lot of people left at intermission, and a few more left following each post-intermission presentation. Too bad for the folks that presented at the end of the program.

Other than that, it was a great time. The first PKN was at Intermedia Arts. I’m really curious to see what venue they end up in next. I wouldn’t mind seeing it at The Lab again. Judging by attendance last night, they may have outgrown Intermedia Arts already.

Definitely worth checking out. Follow PKN-MSP on facebook and Twitter (@pknmsp) or sign up for their newsletter.

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