Make Things Easy for Yourself with These 6 Pro Tips on Preparing a Talk

Thinking of presenting at Bettakultcha? Why not make things easier for yourself by following these 6 tips from past presenters.

They’ve been there, done that and got the BK badge. And, so can you when you prepare your presentation like a pro.

1. Don’t get it right, get it written

A great tip that’s not only a fav of BK presenters, but also prolific writers like Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Lee Child, Ray Bradbury and many, many more.

When starting a fresh talk many presenters obsess with themes, structure, or research.

It’s great to think about those things, but it’s also a great way to procrastinate.

Have an idea? Even if it’s really vague?

Just start writing. See what happens.

Once you’ve got words on a page, you will get a clearer picture of what you’re talking about. Once you start writing, you’ll be amazed by how much you know and amazed by how many ideas you have.

You can edit anything or do extra research after. But, expressing your ideas comes first.

What if you struggle to write freely?

Well, here’s another tip (a sneaky bonus tip – we’re spoiling you!)

One presenter told us that when they have an idea for a talk they record a conversation with a friend. It helps them to start expressing their ideas. Somehow while trying to explain them to a friend they figure out how to explain them to a crowd.

They simply listen back to the conversation and write it all down.

BANG. All they have to do is a bit of editing. But it was only possible after initially expressing their ideas.

2. Remember that it’s only 5 minutes

We realise this is a little patronising. Especially if you know Bettakultcha, you’ll know the 5-min-20-slide-15-second format.

But it’s always worth repeating.

Because sometimes it’s too easy to try and pack in too much into such a short amount of time. Especially if you’re passionate about your subject.  

So give yourself a break.

You don’t need to jam every single piece of information you’ve discovered into your talk.

Sometimes it’s like writing an essay when you’re over the word count.

Cut out those non-essential points (no matter how much you love them) and keep in the stuff your audience must know.

And keep hold of that passion. Because once you’ve caught the public speaking bug, you’ll want to do more.

And you can even save that extra material for your next talk.

3. Keep your slides short and sweet

Don’t overload those slides. One or two images, a handful of words is enough to get your concept across.

One of the reasons why the fast-paced BK format exists is to stop people overloading slides with information.

You’ve probably seen presentations at work or on a course, where you find that you are trying to read what’s on the slides rather than listening to the speaker.

People have come to listen to you and your ideas, not read some slides. So, think of your slides as supporting what you are talking about.

Each slide is only up for 15 seconds. So keep them simple.

Thinking about preparing your slides this way will will help you breakdown your ideas and be clearer about what you’re trying to share with your audience.

It will also save you time preparing these slides.

4. Don’t worry about learning your script

If you want, you can bring your notes up on stage with you.

The Bettakultcha crowd come to listen to passionate people who are volunteers. They’re not expecting everyone to be the most experienced speakers. The crowd know that you’ve given up your time to do this. And it takes time to prepare too.

So, there’s no pressure to learn your script off by heart, even if doing that looks really cool.

The crowd don’t mind, so you shouldn’t mind.

If you can’t remember your script, don’t worry. Plenty of people at Bettakultcha bring notes or flashcards on stage.

Some folks like to keep notes on stage for reassurance and often don’t even use them.

Some folks don’t even learn their script or bring notes. They’re so passionate about their idea they can talk about it easily for 5 minutes.

That’s the easiest thing to do. Let your passion guide you.

The hardest thing to do is learn every-single-individual-word of your script. It’s time consuming. You’re here to share your passions but you don’t have to be an actor to do it.

5. You can link to the theme or not – it’s up to you

Bettakultcha events – both evening spectaculars and lunchtime networking events (with LeedsBID) – will have a theme.

Often folks like to link to the theme. Many find it an inspiring starting point.

But while our lunchtime events often have speakers presenting on a topic, our evening events are free and easy.

That’s why we call them ‘unofficial’ themes.

So if you have an idea and it doesn’t ‘link’ with the theme, go ahead. We want to hear it anyway.

6. Nail the technical stuff and give yourself an easy life

Finally, there are a couple technical things that will make preparing for your Bettakultcha presentation a breeze. Screen ratios and transitions.

BUT – you don’t need to wory about this. We now provide everyone who speaks with a template.

Use that it will make things so much easier for you!

What are you waiting for? The people of Bettakultcha are excited to hear about your passions and interests.


What to Know About Speaking at a Bettakultcha Networking Event

Bettakultcha is infamous for its evening spectacular events. But did you know it also does daytime networking events too?

Here’s everything you need to know in a handy FAQ format below.

Interested in speaking at a Bettakultcha daytime event? Get in touch at for more details.

I’ve been invited to speak at a Bettakultcha networking event in partnership with Leeds BID or Nexus – what is it?

It’s a lunchtime networking session usually held in a venue in the centre of Leeds where four or five speakers use the Bettakultcha format to explore a theme that is relevant to the audience. The speakers deliver their five-minute talk within a half hour period set in the middle of a ninety minute networking session.

What is the Bettakultcha format?

The three rules of a Bettakultcha talk are: 20 slides, 15 seconds duration and no sales pitches.

What are the themes?

They vary for each networking session but they’re deliberately left open to interpretation so speakers can have flexibility in choosing their subject matter and angle of approach.

What is the purpose of the talks?

Networking events can benefit from having a structure that encourages attendees to talk to new contacts in a relaxed and natural fashion. If speakers at the event have raised fascinating insights or ideas, the audience will want to discuss the points amongst themselves afterwards. The talks therefore, should ideally be aimed at encouraging conversation amongst the audience.

It’s not about being an expert then?

No, the audience members come from varied backgrounds and have different interests so they’re looking for useful ideas or insights. The speakers can be experts in their own field and can draw on their knowledge if they want to but it’s about sharing the most interesting aspects of their knowledge without being too technical. It may be that you’re not an expert in a subject but have strong opinions about one of the themes and want to make a case about it – that’s okay too.

So I can be outspoken or challenging in my talk?

Absolutely, the audience members want to hear cutting-edge ideas as well as fascinating predictions. For example: one speaker with an art background spoke about the ethics of autonomous weapons – the prospect of such a reality raised many questions that attendees wanted to discuss. Another speaker poked fun at some of the less useful inventions technology has produced – your talk doesn’t have to be serious, audience and speakers want to enjoy themselves too!

No sales pitches?

These networking events are attempting to walk the talk and redefine the perception of what a networking session is. They recognize that people in business are human beings too so the speakers aren’t there to sell their organization or their products; they’re there to promote new ideas and insights.

What’s in it for me as a speaker?

Sell yourself as an engaging speaker. The events attract large audiences representing a huge range of professions and skills. An engaging speaker who entertains and informs the audience will make a deep and lasting impression on them.

Okay, I’m interested in speaking, what’s next?

The networking events (and the evening social events) are publicised in the Bettakultcha newsletter so if you want to be guaranteed of keeping abreast of them all then sign up for the newsletter here.

If you want to speak at one of the events then email Ivor Tymchak ( who co-ordinates Bettakultcha’s daytime events.


Our next Bettakultcha daytime networking event is in the works…watch this space.

Date: TBA

Time: TBA

Location: TBA

Theme: TBA

And remember you don’t have to be an “expert”, just passionate about this topic.

Get in touch with Ivor at and/or

Thank you for reading and we hope to see you soon!

Networking in Leeds gets a boost in 2019 with BBBig Ideas

As well as our evening extravaganzas, Bettakultcha organises lunchtime networking events in collaboration with Leeds BID.

The iconic format is still the same – 20 Slides. 15 Seconds. 5 Mins. No Sales Pitches. – but there’s also chance to connect and meet future collaborators or unique and interesting folks from the thriving business community.

Julian Pearce

The last event at Sedulo, Park Square, Leeds was a terrific event as can be seen from the video.

The dates for 2019 have been booked in and the themes decided. We’ll be looking for speakers to fill the dates – watch out for future posts giving more details.

What is Bettakultcha? – 7 Things You Should Know

Bettakultcha is a semi-regular event with a cult following in Yorkshire. Our events are a kooky cocktail of conference, comedy club, spoken word and storytelling show.

Yeah, you’re right. It does sound like it shouldn’t work.

But somehow we’ve been wowing audiences for almost 10 years, even though it’s still hard to explain what Bettakultcha is.

One of the key things is that anyone can present. That’s important.

But there’s more to it than that. So, in true BK style we’ve worked up a quick guide.

Whether you’re new, converting a friend or want to relive the happy hazy memories of a past event, here’s 7 things you should know about Bettakultcha:


1. If you like TED talks, you’ll like Bettakultcha

If we told you Bettakultcha was a night of powerpoint presentations you would definitely cackle, throw maggot-ridden tomatoes and Snapchat our well-deserved humiliation.

Instead, let’s say that Bettakultcha is a little like TED talks… except they are quicker, quirkier and a little less wanky.

Now, we love TED talks. We’re not dissing them. There’s some great stuff, but anyone can admit there’s a lot of guff too. How many ‘gurus’ have we seen pretentiously prattle on with the promise to perfect our lives with ‘one weird trick’?

The answer won’t surprise you.

At Bettakultcha our presenters are mostly down to earth folk (even if their heads are in the clouds sometimes!). They come along to talk about anything that they’re passionate about.

And like a Ted talk you get that powerful combo of entertainment and education, but with a grassroots feel.

It’s just a coinkydink that there’s powerpoint involved – which does not sponsor Bettakultcha by the way.

Other slide presentation programmes are available.


2. Presenters don’t sell you their ‘stuff’

Here’s one reason to like Bettakultcha: NO SALES PITCHES.

Since we began we’ve had this strict rule to stop folks flogging their wares or using the audience to fund their get rich quick schemes.

So feel free to chill. The only thing people are selling are ideas, thoughts and feelings on a topic their care about.

No matter how weird that topic is.


3. Talks are about anything and everything

Although every event has a theme, it doesn’t mean presenters have to link to it. It’s an option. Some find it a helpful starting point, others already know what they want to talk about when they sign up.

It just means we get a nice, broad range of topics and presenters.

Our events exist to celebrate unique ideas and niche perspectives. At our October 2018 event we had talks on historical climate change, mathematical aesthetics and an Irish folk song about smelly P.E. kits.

That’s just one example of how Bettakultcha is a smorgasbord of culture wrapped up into one evening.


4. Sometimes they’re funny, sometimes they’re something else

Bettakultcha’s quick-fire format (more details below) is the perfect platform for punchy jokes, visual gags and witty tales.

Sometimes we get talks that are like Dave Gorman’s stand up shows.



But the format is ideal for other styles. Sometimes we have short stories…



…sometimes there’s poetry…



…and sometimes talks are very personal.




5. There’s a very specific format, which works like a treat!

These creative possibilities are all possible thanks to Bettakultcha’s specific format.

Every Bettakultcha presentation follows this very rigid, very formal format:

  • 5 minute talks
  • With 20 slides
  • All 15 seconds each

And as you can see it offers enough restrictions to give people a way to present that’s regularly visual, memorable and fast-paced.


6. Sometimes it can get a bit ‘random’

Every Bettakultcha night ends in chaos. But the kind we love.

After the prepared presentations we offer anyone in the audience (not just speakers) the  chance to take on the RANDOM SLIDE CHALLENGE!

No one sees the slides before and everyone tries their best to do a presentation on the spot.

There’s spectacles, there’s disasters but they’re always incredible. And thankfully – for the challengers – they’re only 10 slides long!




7. The most important thing about Bettakultcha is…


…anyone can go up and present. It doesn’t matter if you’re a master public speaker or a first timer, if you present at Bettakultcha you’ll have an audience who is there to support you.

And everyone who presents gets a Bettakultcha badge. Which is nice.

Keep a look out for when we’re looking out for speakers for our next event. We put call outs on Facebook, Twitter and our newsletter.

So don’t be shy!

And we hope you can make it along to our next night. See you then!


The Tech Off Takedown

Photo: Ben Ripley

The crowd in the hall was at least 200 strong, mainly young people in their twenties. A super-hero costumed DJ on the stage was providing the deafening rock music as we waited for the event to begin. Finally, the theme music from Rocky announced the entrance of the MC and his entourage. The scene was straight out of Madison Square Gardens for a heavyweight bout of some kind – security guards in dark suits flanked the MC who was wearing dark glasses that doubled as a matrix sign scrolling various ‘Tech Off’ messages.

This was nothing like any tech event I’d ever attended.

Earlier that day I’d been contacted by Royd Brayshay, a friend of mine who texted me a link directing me to some event details. He asked if I wanted to go as he was intending to be there. The promotional copy suggested it was a wrestling contest interspersed with tech talks. It all sounded bizarre but I thought if it has talks in it, I’d go.

Once at the event I discovered there was no actual wrestling, just the hype surrounding wrestling – capes, costumes, prize-fighting belts and over-the-top MCs. Judging by the effort put into the show the sponsors had clearly allocated a ton of money for it.

The outlandish MC (@BeyonceOfTech) and his crew cruised past me and sailed onto the stage. Once he had the microphone the MC harangued the crowd for their lifeless response to his appearance and baited them into becoming a vocal mob. After ten minutes of vocal pistol-whipping the crowd bayed at the required ear-splitting volume.

It was then announced that one of the Creative speakers hadn’t turned up (I guess creativity is unpredictable) so there was a Wild Card opportunity for someone who was stupid/brave/drunk enough to take on the challenge. My sober ears pricked up.

The explained format was this: there would be four separate bouts where a Creative would battle a Techie to determine who was most relevant in the world. Each contestant would give a five minute illustrated talk to trade blows. After the four ‘fights’ the winners of the bouts would gather on stage and the roar of the crowd would decide the overall champion who could then rightfully claim the prize-fighting belt on offer. The hysterical crowd cheered the strutting MC and the atmosphere was redolent of well, … a prize-fight.

I volunteered to be the Wild Card.

In all my presentation skills workshops I encourage the attendees to take up every opportunity to speak in order to improve their skills – it’s the only way to improve, so if I can’t walk the talk I’ve no business running a speakers workshop.

Then the fights began.

With so many attendants on stage the speakers had trouble knowing who to approach for the clicker that controlled the slides and with the frequent ‘mic drops’ during the talks it all seemed a bit chaotic. After each bout the MC asked the crowd to voice their approval or disapproval of the speakers. A pretend clapometer measured the decibel rating and the winner received a little trophy.

As I watched these early rounds I had about half an hour to figure out what I was going to say in my slot. I didn’t have any slides to worry about so I could concentrate fully on my narrative. At first I considered just having some fun with the audience and playfully going over some presentation hints and tips but I eventually decided to tell the story of Semmelweis who discovered that hand washing in hospitals saved lives. I’d given this talk before at a Bettakultcha event so I figured it should work well within the time constraint but it also has a serious message to it that fitted the remit of the event.

The energy in the room was the highest I’d ever experienced at a speaking event so I was going to have to adapt my usual style of delivery to fit the mood in the audience, I was going to have to make my stage persona a lot bigger. Rule number one for speakers is: it’s never about you, it’s always about the audience.

I have to confess, as experienced as I am, when the time came to ascend the stage I was feeling nervous; this was an unfamiliar sector for me and I had no preparation – but hey, I was a seasoned compere so I could improvise! Another rule for speakers is to use your nervous energy in a positive way.

As soon as I hit the stage I set up a ‘call and response’ format to assess if the audience were willing to follow the story. This got them immediately engaged and I was able to monitor their attention as the story developed.

The talk was going well and I intended to follow the structure of the original talk I had given at Bettakultcha but as I was nearing the conclusion I suddenly thought of a ‘let’s not fight but collaborate’ ending to the talk that was more appropriate for the occasion. This was improvised but judging from the cheer coming from the audience it hit just the right note.

I won the bout.

The climax of the event was where the four finalists stand on the stage for the ultimate clap-off. As I stood at the front of the stage I kept to the promoted theme and played to the crowd with ridiculous ‘body-building’ exhibition poses that indicated I wasn’t taking myself too seriously. The whole package must have worked because I was declared the overall winner of the contest and was awarded the champions belt. It was a surreal but hugely satisfying moment.

The learning I got from this experience was:

  • Be spontaneous and take every opportunity to speak (but don’t traumatize yourself).
  • Adapt to the needs of the audience and the context of the moment.
  • Enjoy yourself!


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