Business Diary: December 4

The FOCUS Ladies Network
The FOCUS Ladies Network
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ALL good public speakers are taught to admire the beauty of brevity.

Waffle on for too long and your audience is soon stifling yawns or voting with their feet.

We all remember great speakers who left us wanting more. The politicians who listened to the Gettysburg address would have testified to that.

On January 9 2013, Leeds Town Hall is hosting an event that will introduce a larger audience to the delights of Bettakultcha. What started out as a bit of fun for Richard Michie and Ivor Tymchak, the co-founders of Bettakultcha, has grown into something much bigger.

They started the event because they were fed up of seeing boring presentations by so-called experts and wanted to do something about it. So, in March 2010 in an unheated boardroom in the Temple Works on Marshall Street, Leeds, a group of 50 people got together and started to give presentations in a different way.

Since then, they have put on events in Manchester, Bradford, York and Huddersfield, and last summer, Bettakultcha appeared at the Magic Loungeabout music festival in Skipton.

Bettakultcha is an evening of talks given by people who are passionate about a subject. But there’s a catch. The talks have to use 20 slides that last for 15 seconds exactly. This means all the talks are five minutes in length. There is another rule that Mr Michie and Mr Tymchak insist on – no sales pitches.

Mr Michie said. “We’ve had 33 events with hundreds of presenters covering every kind of subject: Baking to black holes, space shuttles to pin-hole cameras. The beauty of Bettakultcha is that anyone can give a talk, all they need is a passion and the enthusiasm to get up in front of an audience of hundreds.”

Mr Tymchak added: “We see it as a cabaret of ideas with no subject off limits. The event gets better with each show as the volunteer presenters watch each other and learn how to improve their presentation skills. It sounds a bit dry on paper but the live events are more unpredictable and funnier than a box of frogs.”

The speaker at the Leeds Town Hall event will be Tom Riordan, the chief executive at Leeds City Council.

Mr Riordan said: “I’m very excited – and slightly scared – to be taking part in one of Bettakultcha’s events. Despite having to speak in public quite a lot, I very rarely use slides and I haven’t yet decided what to talk about.”

A different focus

CHRISTMAS took on a Caribbean flavour at the annual FOCUS Ladies lunch, which attracted women from across the professional services sector in West Yorkshire.

The FOCUS Ladies Network was devised by a team of female solicitors from the corporate, restructuring and banking teams of Pinsent Masons, more than eight years ago.

Events have ranged from an outing to Diggerland to a Ready Steady Cook competition to pottery making.

The network has become well-known for its Christmas lunch in aid of a charitable cause. This year, the stars of West Yorkshire Fire Service’s 2013 calendar attended the event, where money was raised for Yorkshire Air Ambulance, The Laila Milly Foundation and The Fire Fighters Charity.

Dawn Allen, senior associate at Pinsent Masons, said: “The event was a huge success with our highest attendance to date.

“We raised nearly £1,000 for the calendar’s nominated charities which is a fantastic achievement for an event that is still a relatively intimate format.

“The FOCUS Ladies network is a fantastic opportunity for ladies from across the West Yorkshire region to come together, in an informal environment, to broaden their contacts whilst also helping to support some very worthwhile charities.

“We have always tried to differentiate our events by coming up with original ideas, this year of course being no exception. We found that the ladies who attended thought our alternative Christmas lunch was very refreshing when their diaries are full of typical Christmas events.”

The bells are ringing

BARNSLEY-based Billington Holdings has been ringing with the sound of success in recent weeks.

The structural steel firm rings an old school bell in its factory every time it wins a new contract.

That’s been a regular sound of late as the company’s move into energy and rail helps it win new contracts despite a deep slump for the steel industry.

“It’s sat on the reception desk waiting to be taken around the factory,” said chief executive Steve Fareham.

“We went through a fairly fallow period but it’s ringing more often at the moment.

“The lads in the factory like to hear it ring.”