Pecha Kucha NOLA: The Sound of Conversation

If you are interested in feeling closer to the people of New Orleans while being part of a global event where 100 cities worldwide simultaneously give the stage to over 1000 presenters, then you want to go to Pecha Kucha Night (PKN) on September 20th.

The spirit of Pecha Kucha and the spirit of New Orleans are harmoniously similar. Pecha Kucha (Japanese for the sound of conversation) started in a Tokyo space called SuperDeluxe, a place intended for “thinking and drinking,” which is a philosophy that fits in well here in New Orleans.  It’s a simple formula where each presenter prepares 20 slides, and each slide is shown for 20 seconds; no stops or pauses. Presenters get 6 minutes and 40 seconds to inform, entertain and blow their audience away. This formula allows complete freedom for 6 minutes and 40 seconds, but once time is up, its on to the next presenter. As a result, the audience is treated to thoughtful, concise, interesting and even powerful stories.

Pecha Kucha NOLA: Get Online NOLA Blog

The audience applaud a presenter at Vol. 8 PechaKucha NOLA at Propeller Incubator.

I heard about Pecha Kucha Night shortly after my move from NOLA to New Haven, CT. I knew it was some sort of community event and it was free, but not much more than that.  Despite arriving an hour early, the venue was a packed house without a single empty seat; roaring conversation and waiters frantically running back and forth. I saw the giant screen mounted on the wall and figured I was in the right place.

Once the lights dimmed, the crowd went quiet. The organizer (whose company Epstein Design has an office in New Orleans (small world)) explained that Pecha Kucha started in 2003 as a way for young designers, inventors, creators, and general doers to network and present their ideas to the community. The presenters at the New Haven event were as varied as the population itself. From a touching story about a chorus singer finally reaching self-acceptance, to an urban planner presenting a new open streets initiative, to a woman chronicling her obsession with cargo bikes. I left Pecha Kucha feeling connected to a city I didn’t know well and realized that is what Pecha Kucha is all about – being part of a community that is always thinking and improving, and listening to the individuals that are part of that evolution.

Pecha Kucha NOLA: Get Online NOLA Blog

A giant screen is set up at Vol. 7 PechaKucha NOLA at Grow Dat Youth Farm

Pecha Kucha NOLA started in 2009 after the then-organizer saw a PKN in Austin and decided to bring the platform home. NOLA is now preparing for their 10th volume and the current organizer, Marianne Graffam explains that because she doesn’t censor the presentations and sees them for the first time with the audience, there is always an element of surprise. The accepting atmosphere of PKNs allow for total freedom of expression.

Putting together a PKN involves many organizational aspects such as date, location and, most importantly, the presenters. Some presenters seek her out, but Marianne spends a lot of time researching, talking and reaching out to people, making her very engaged with the city. This volume of PKN will not disappoint as a great group of local presenters, ranging from entrepreneurs to artists to gardeners, have already signed up.

Visit for more information about past and future events, and a full list of presenters.

We asked Marianne to share a few event planning tips that she’s learned while organizing PKN NOLA:
  1. Be very excited about that you want to do, because excitement is contagious.
  2. Give yourself plenty of time to plan.  It takes me 6-8 weeks to comfortably plan a PKN.
  3. Do your research.  I was very fortunate because there were so many precedents for this event.
  4. Talk to lots and lots of people.
  5. Know your skill set and utilize it. Ask for help in areas where you’re not as strong.

Pecha Kucha New Orleans: Get Online NOLA Blog

 Pecha Kucha Night: New Orleans. Vol. 10

September 20, 2013.


Doors at 7pm, slides start at 7:30.

The Foundation Gallery and Absinthe Minded Boutique.

608 Julia Street New Orleans LA 70130

If you are interested in presenting in a future PKN, please contact Marianne Graffam at [email protected].