In our continuing endeavour to see if *everything* can be improved by adding cake, or just most things, the Women’s Cycle Forum Scotland is following up its successful Cake Summit with a Pecha Caka evening – aka a Pecha Kucha event of short talks, but where everyone has to bring cake.
Actually, bear with me, there is a serious point to it, and it’s not just that we like cake. Just like at the Cake Summit, bringing food to share, and eating food that others have given you, is a powerful way of building an atmosphere of warmth and supportiveness (and possibly a little bit of rivalry over recipies). As our teachers never tired of telling us at school, ‘companion’ comes from the word for sharing bread, although we’re with Marie Antoinette on the whole bread issue. As we’re asking people to stand up and give presentations, what better way to soften your audience than to have stuffed their mouths with chocolate brownies beforehand? Hopefully it will create an atmosphere where the dreaded ‘public speaking’ becomes less daunting, a matter of standing up and talking to new friends, rather than presenting to an anonymous audience, their arms folded, waiting to be entertained.
And that’s not all. We are aware that one* of the barriers to having more women speaking at conferences is that women are – for whatever reason – more likely not to put themselves forward for something because they don’t feel they’re qualified to do it well (clearly they’ve never sat through the sorts of conferences I have where speaker after speaker has stood up and read his powerpoint slides to us at great length, so they have no reason just how low the bar can be). So we’ve tacked on a short workshop beforehand, to give potential speakers at this or any other event a chance to practise their public speaking skills. With cake, obviously.
So if you’re in Edinburgh next week – mark your diaries for Thursday the 15th June. The workshop is at five, the main event at seven. It’s free, as long as you bring cake, otherwise a donation will suffice. You can book here
And after that? Well, as we’ve almost certainly got another general election looming in the not-too-distant future, I’m already musing how we could make the whole thing a bit less painful with the addition of cake…
*Obviously the main barrier is them not being asked, and nobody thinking that it might be a problem until they get an #allmalepanel hashtag on twitter, by which time it’s probably too late.