By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Jun 15, 2008 at 5:27 AM

We've all been there. You're trapped at a mildly interesting yet endlessly droning conference or presentation and the only thing keeping you semi conscious is your constant battle with gravity to keep your eyelids from falling.

It's no way to learn. And it's definitely no way to inspire.

With this in mind two young Japanese architects -- Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham -- crafted Pecha Kucha in 2003 as a means to show their ideas and network with other designers in a way that reflected their creativity and motivation. Japanese for the "sound of conversation" -- literally "chit chat" -- Pecha Kucha allows artists, business people, writers or anyone with an idea to share to present their information in a concise, provocative and personal way.

It has since caught on in many cities across the world and comes to Milwaukee for the first time this Tuesday, June 17 at the Hi Hat Garage. The 8 p.m. event brings nine Milwaukeeans to share their knowledge in what's called the "20x20" format: Each person talks over 20 slides that change automatically every 20 seconds. After the presenter's six minutes and 40 seconds is up, it's on to the next one.

"After seeing a (Pecha Kucha) event in Chicago, I realized there are many incredible things that people are doing, both professionally and personally, that most people will never know about," says Jon Mueller of 800-CEO-READ, who organized the event.

"Doing this in Milwaukee will help open the door here, to discover who's on the cusp of some great invention, a perfect match to fill a unique position in a company, or the completely random pastimes people do that could be applied to solving a greater issue."

While the topics are important, the overall event is relaxed and fun -- rather than forced -- and includes a mandatory beer break where the both the speakers and the audience meet, mingle and discuss the topics further.

"It's not just a meet and greet, but a chance to really share ideas," adds Mueller.

This Tuesday's Pecha Kucha is the first of a four-event series in Milwaukee. The presenters and topics are:

Corey Canfield -- "Milwaukee Recycles (Kind Of)"
Erica Conway -- "How a Woman Runs a Business"
Tom Crawford -- "Kaszube Ornithological Concern International (KOCI)"
Peter Exley -- "Growing Up in a Black and White World"
Daniel Goldin -- "Dead Department Stores"
Nicolas Lampert -- "Meatscapes: A Travel Log"
Faythe Levine -- "Craftivism & Community"
Aaron Schleicher -- "The Making of a True American Record"_
Jolynn Woehrer -- "Unwrapping Chocolate for its (Dis) Contents: A Feminist Analysis of its Fetishisms and its Fair Trade"




Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”