BettaKultcha Base Camp – Free!

Base camp

Have you always wanted to present at Bettakultcha but felt you didn’t have enough confidence?

Or are you a regular presenter who wants to improve your skills?

Here at Bettakultcha we’re passionate about helping people to realise their potential so we’ve organised a feedback group to give presenters a chance to trial their talks before they go on the big stage.

Anyone wanting to run an idea past a group of seasoned BK goers can do so in a supportive atmosphere. You don’t need a fully formed presentation or all twenty slides – the idea behind the group is to encourage good presentations in whatever way we can. You can also come purely as an observer to pick up whatever tips you find useful.

We might have regular talks from experienced people giving hints and tips about all aspects of speaking (yeah, in the BK tradition we’re going to make this up as we go along).

The first meeting will be on Monday 15th December at Steelcase Solutions, 14 King Street (ground floor), Leeds LS1 2HL commencing at 6.30pm.

This initial meeting is free and we’re going to limit the numbers to twenty. If the demand is high enough we will organise subsequent meetings and adjust the structure to meet the needs of the attendees.

If you want to attend can you please fill in the form

In case we get inundated we might have to limit the number of check-out sessions.

Our first podcast – Episode 1 – Beacons Festival

We’ve been mulling it over for a while. but finally Ivor broke and bought a microphone for his iPad. Once this was in his hand there was no stopping him. So here we are the first Bettakultcha podcast.

The purchase of the microphone coincided with Bettakultcha doing four sets at Beacons Festival, so we thought what better way to start the Bettakultcha podcasts than with a review of what went on that wet weekend in August.

Bettakultcha podcast – Episode 1

We have loads of other podcasts “in the can” already which feature extended discussions with some of the presenters who have spoken at Bettakultcha over the last few years.

This first podcast is on SoundCloud only at the moment, but we’ll have it available on ‘iToons’ soon (thanks Si Wilson).

Please let us know what you think in the comments.

What is a ‘sales pitch’?

Just like Fight Club, Bettakultcha has a number one rule: NO SALES PITCHES. As regulars to Bettakultcha know, everyone who attends an event fiercely observes the rule. We don’t vet any of the presentations beforehand so we rely absolutely on the common sense and integrity of the presenters. And as our presenters are audience members too, they are equally keen to keep the event as entertaining and informative as possible.

This strategy has worked well and no one has ever turned up trying to blatantly sell a product or service.

So far, so good.

Then, at one event a couple of years ago, someone ‘pitched’ a charity event that was to take place in Leeds. It was all for a good cause and no one made any money out of it etcetera but the feeling in the audience was that it was a ‘pitch’ in intent.

This had disturbing ramifications for the ‘no sales pitches’ rule. If charitable events were exempt, where would it end up – presentation after presentation for non-profit, good causes? Um, borrrring …

Then, at the recent Importance of Failure event (hey, this is so apposite!) Mark Shayler did a presentation about an organisation he’s involved with, The Do Lectures.

I knew of Do Lecturers from long before our event was planned and had enjoyed some of their videoed talks so when I eventually met Mark I invited him to speak and I was delighted when he accepted. I wasn’t sure what he was going to talk about as each presenter had an open brief about failure. Unfortunately, Mark wouldn’t have the opportunity to experience an actual Bettakultcha event before he spoke at one. I suspect this fact is critical in explaining what subsequently transpired.

Basically Mark describes a successful not-for-profit event (the Do lectures) that is then deliberately broken to produce something more interesting. In order to make this apparent reckless behaviour more dramatic, Mark emphasises the previous success of Do. I think it was this aspect that some people found to be a pitch especially as Mark is involved with the organisation.

Personally, I have no doubt that Mark told his story with genuine integrity and honesty (he’s heavily involved with Good for Nothing too) and I’m grateful that he took the time and trouble to present at Bettakultcha. However, my beliefs are irrelevant when it comes to an audience interpreting a message. What a speaker attempts to communicate needs to be measured against what the audience understands from the presentation. As several people mentioned to me afterwards that they thought Mark’s presentation came close to being a pitch I have to conclude that a misinterpretation had taken place somewhere in the communication – for whatever reason.

The question that this raises is ‘what is a sales pitch’? Perhaps Bettakultcha should just shorten the rule to ‘no pitches’? But would that resolve the issue? Should it be a rule that people can only present once they had attended an event so they can get a feel for the audience expectation?

As ever, this incident reminds us that the golden mantra of ‘it’s not about me, it’s about the audience’ should be repeated by all presenters before putting any kind of speech together.

I invite honest and respectful comments from our audience so that we can try to clarify the issue. Thanks.

Bettakultcha, I’ll Be Back

The Importance of Failure

A guest post by by Christopher N. Cambell

I’d never been to Bettakultcha. I didn’t know what it was all about. The description sounded vaguely like a sort of TED talk which, coupled with the theme, was enough to get me through the door.

The importance of failure. Intriguing.

I grabbed a pint and my notebook, sat near the back, ready to quietly sneak out if it all went wrong. I was sure it would at some point. But, it never did.

Instead we were treated to a wide array of artists, entrepreneurs, and all manner of oddballs full of fascinating things to say and stories to share. Everything from lifesaving failing fuses to foiled umbrella stand plans were put on parade. Some wore solemn attire, others dressed more playfully, and a few came cloaked as optical illusions leaving us scratching our heads, wondering just which way to look at them.

But every point of view, regardless of tone, came back to one universal truth about each of us. We fail. Whether that’s in comparison to those around us, through lack of fame/fortune/confidence, or simply by losing focus, it inevitably happens. That’s life.

The question is, what next? Do we wallow in self pity and staunchly refuse to try stand up comedy after a poor performance? Do we try to forget the horrendous business cards that never brought us clients? Or do we gather up all those broken bits of metal that didn’t hold up under pressure and use them to our advantage?

After all, failure isn’t the end of something, it’s just the beginning of something else.

This is a beloved truth to which I daily cling as a writer/designer/photographer who just so happens to spend 40 hours a week on a performance art piece. To all but the most astute observer, I probably look exactly like a barista. But that’s only because I’ve not yet failed enough to be great and leave behind the shackles of my nine to five. As Ira Glass would say, my taste is killer but my work still disappoints me.

So I continue to gleefully fail, sure in the knowledge that all these scars will add up to something worthwhile, something that will look like success. Maybe not to everyone, in fact, it might just seem like a dark room full of smiling people drinking and scribbling in their notebooks. But to me, it’s right where I belong. It’s progress.

It’s bettakultcha.

Bettakultcha at Beeston Social Club

In September Bettakultcha took a bold turn a ventured out of the comfort zone of most and visited Beeston Social Club. It was certainly off the beaten track and a step into the unknown. Inside was a world I’d known well as a child – The Workingmen’s Club.

Complete with a Bingo Machine and place for the head of the committee it was a perfect time capsule from my youth, when, each Sunday dinner time I’d go with my Nan to the Midhill Club in Sheffield and sit at her arm while she lost every single game of Bingo.

Needless to say, we resisted the pull of the 99 balls. We had some illuminating presentations and some robot building instead.

Here’s how the night unfurled.

Amy Johnson – @Hairlesswhisper

Ed Carlisle – @edLeeds

Laura Wilson – @leedsloveaffair

Paul Smith – @Smithfive

Peg Alexander – @Peg_Alexander

Dom Burch – @MediocreIdeas

Alison Pilling – @anarchicali

Emma Bearman – @Culturevultures

Noel Curry – @DJBogtrotter

Emily Axel – @foleynotrose

Scott Hewitt – @scotthewitt

Chris Ingold – @futean1

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