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Bettakultcha (West Yorkshire)

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A pop-up presentation evening where people talk about their passions held at various West Yorkshire venues.

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      20.12.2011 12:16
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      A great way to meet people

      Bettakultcha is a really different and a really fun night out. It's been nicely summed up as a 'cabaret of ideas'; what it's really about is people sharing their passions.

      Anyone can sign up to speak at Bettakultcha and anyone can attend. Usually there are ten to twelve speakers, who each have five minutes in which to speak on whatever topic they choose. Each speaker has to prepare a slideshow of 20 slides to accompany their talk, and each slide must last exactly 15 seconds. No plugs or pitches are allowed.

      The venue changes regularly. I attend the Leeds events, which have been held at Leeds University Union bar, Leeds Corn Exchange and the Brudenell Social Club. The venues I have been to are always full of character. If we're at a bar, then there are plenty of breaks to buy drinks and so on. Otherwise, there's a 'bring your own' policy.

      The organisers of the event are two men called Richard and Ivor. On the night, Richard takes care of the slideshows and Ivor acts as compere. Richard is usually also keeping up with the Twitter buzz: everyone is encouraged to tweet furiously in the small gaps between each presentation so it's easy to engage with anyone in the room. Ivor is a big personality: his jokes are generally, well...appalling, but he's so likeable that you can't hold it against him!

      The speakers, of course, are the most important factor in the experience. The beauty of Bettakultcha is that if someone's presentation is boring, or not up your street, then 5 minutes later. Just off the top of my head, the topics I've seen presented have included socialism, Mills and Boon, why metaphors are lies, discrimination against short people, the science of Back to the Future, the space shuttle, particle physics, charity shop fashion, weight loss and the decline of the British 'chap'. One particularly inspiring talk was from a man who lost a leg in a motorcycle accident. He described the accident, his recovery and the way his life had changed and by the end there was barely a dry eye in the house! Because the speakers are rarely professionals, you do occasionally get a talk that isn't delivered particularly well, but with an open mind you can still learn something. The majority of the speakers I have seen have been confident, and many of them have been laugh out loud funny.

      If you turn up on the night and you're feeling brave, you can volunteer for the random slide challenge. The organisers provide four presentations with ten random slides, and audience members volunteer to get up and present for two and a half minutes using the slides as prompts. These can be a bit hit and miss; it really depends on whether the volunteer is as witty and quick as they think they are!

      The audience is usually quite young and lively, but respectful towards the speakers. I've never heard anyone booed or heckled at all, and I've met some lovely people in the audience - often ones I already knew from Twitter.

      Tickets are usually £5, apart from the occasional 'special event' where some drinks or nibbles might be included. At the moment Bettakultcha operates only in West Yorkshire, with plans to expand into Manchester soon, although there could be other, similar operations in other parts of the country. To find out more, visit www.bettakultcha.com or follow their tweets: @bettakultcha.

      Recommended if: you want a night out with a difference, combining learning, drinking and socialising.

      Not recommended: if you want to know exactly what your night will involve when you set off.

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