PechaKucha Night in Dayton

Presenters from PechaKucha Night Dayton's Volume 3 at The Cannery Presenters from PechaKucha Night Dayton's Volume 3 at The Cannery

The coolest thing you haven’t heard of and can’t pronounce

By Nicole Wroten

PechaKucha. (Japanese: ペチャクチャ, IPA: [pet͡ɕa ku͍̥t͡ɕa][1], chit chat)

Presenters from PechaKucha Night Dayton's Volume 3 at The Cannery

Funny word, right? So, what does it mean? Sounds kind of like Pikachu. No, that’s not it. A new sushi place? The latest model from Toyota? The eternal partner of Hello Kitty? It draws its name from the Japanese term for the sound “chit chat,” and to a lot of young professionals in America, its meaning is a night of presentations designed to get people talking.

The real definition, according to the official PechaKucha website, is: “an event for young designers to meet, network, and show their work in public.” PechaKucha” Night (PK Night) was devised in Tokyo in February 2003 by two architects who wanted to give other architects and designers an outlet for sharing their work with others.

Now, this isn’t a night of presentations as you might think. It’s definitely not your typical board meeting Powerpoint or presentation speech. PechaKucha rests on a presentation format that is based on a straightforward idea: 20 images x 20 seconds. This means that a presentation will consist of 20 slides, lasting for exactly 20 seconds, each without the need for a “click-through” to the next slide. So, that’s a presentation. The entire presentation lasts six minutes and 40 seconds. This format makes presentations far more concise and keeps the pace much more rapid than a traditional presentation in a business setting.

“[It’s] like a creative mixer with show and tell at its center – people make presentations based on their work, hobbies, interests, volunteering, etc.,” said PK Dayton’s 2011 Organizer Matt Sauer. “The presentations are timed to keep presenters from rambling on and the audience keeps it lively with sporadic heckling if there’s enough beer. It’s a blast.”

PK Night Dayton started in 2009 by Jill Davis who had the idea to bring it to the Miami Valley and contacted the Tokyo organizers to establish the Dayton event. “She organized the first five volumes and it’s really her effort that got it off the ground,” Sauer said. “We throw about four events per year. We usually have a lineup of eight to 12 presenters, a keg and snacks.”

Since 2003, and even since PK Dayton’s inception in 2009, PK Night has turned into somewhat of a global phenomenon, with events happening in hundreds of cities, inspiring thousands of creatives worldwide. “You can go to PK Nights all over the world – almost 400 cities regularly hold PK Nights,” Sauer said.

But specifically in Dayton, PK Nights are held at a location, usually downtown. So far, they’ve held events at the Cannery, c{space, Hamilton Dixon’s new studio and on the rooftop deck at the Firefly Building. “We haven’t run out of cool locations yet,” said Sauer. And their only real criterion for a space is electricity. “And bathrooms, if we’re feeling swanky,” he said.

As far as the presentations themselves, Sauer insisted that and the presenters create something that they are passionate about. That usually makes a better presentation and keeps the audience engaged. “Often people will present their creative portfolios, or a project they’re working on, but it really runs the gamut,” he said.

So what are some of the most interesting featured at Dayton’s PK Nights? “We’ve had presentations about Evel Knievel, comic book characters, the representation of architects in popular culture and how lunches are delivered in India,” said Sauer. “A memorable presentation from Volume 3 was Susan Byrnes where she presented her work and went through the basics of how you make a lost wax casting. Even if I never make a cast bronze sculpture myself, it was somehow inspirational knowing that it’s possible.”

Doing an actual presentation is open to anyone in the creative community and beyond. However, the organizers of the event do screen the presentation ideas, but just about anything goes and everyone is welcome to suggest something.

The future is definitely looking bright for the future of PK everywhere and especially in Dayton. “We have a long list of future presenters, we’re gaining lots of fans on our Facebook page and we have great turnout at our events with relatively little promotion,” Sauer said of their success thus far. “The internet lets people cultivate interests and friends around the world, and PK Night sort of moves the spotlight back onto all the cool things that are happening locally. You might think you’re the only engineer-turned-fashion designer in Dayton, but you’d be wrong.”

The next PK Nigh event is Volume 6, to be held Thursday, Feb. 3 at the Neon starting at 7:15. That night, there will be a total of eight presentations and afterwards, there will be a screening of the movie “Dive!” about dumpster diving as a source of nutritious food. The event at the Neon will be free and the concession stand will be open and serving beer and wine.

PK Night Dayton will host four events in 2011. “If people are curious they should just come to the next volume at the Neon,” said Sauer. “The essence of the event is people sharing ideas. And, sometimes, tap dancing.”

For more information, follow PK Night Dayton on Facebook and on Twitter @PKDayton or contact them via e-mail at

Reach DCP Editor Nicole Wroten at

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