In case you missed our ‘How to Survive/Thrive in Public Engagement and Research Communication’ panel discussion, you can catch up on the full session right here, where we have uploaded the full recordings from the session.
We recommend watching the full discussion with these excellent speakers. However, if you’re short on time and want a quick recap, we’ve outlined some of our top tips for successful public engagement below.
Bear in mind that all of these points matter equally and aren’t meant to be hierarchical. Importantly, have fun with creating your content. Excellent content takes a bit of hard work, but it can be immensely enjoyable and very rewarding to get your research out to the world!
* Streamline your content: Your presentation should have one (at most) two key ideas. You won’t be able to include everything from your research, and that is okay. In fact, you may need to drop or sacrifice a lot of things but it is more important to get one key message across than try to say everything.
* Keep it simple: Use simple, clear language and avoid jargon or technical terms. Be ready to sacrifice accuracy over clarity. The Gunning Fog Index is a useful tool for the readability of your content.
* So what? Every line in your content should say something relevant and significant to your overall argument. Ask yourself ‘so what?’ throughout the process of creating your content to ensure you stay on track with what you want to say. This is especially true in short-time competition, such as the 3MT, where every single sentence counts.
* Be fancy (if you can): If allowed, think about what props, pictures and interactive methods you can use to enhance and engage the audience. Some PE competitions allow and encourage it. However, 3MT has strict rules and only allows a single static slide behind you. Make sure that it doesn’t steal you the scene by excessively distracting the audience.
* Be yourself on stage: Speak and act in a way that fits your personality. This will make you come across as natural and confident and help establish a connection with the audience.
* Be concise: Regardless of how much time you have, be brief and go straight to your points. Try to use short and clear sentences. It’s better to express a concept in multiple short sentences than a single long and intricate one.
* Make people care about your research. Develop a hook: If you were tweeting in 240 characters about your research what would you say? Start from there, then build around that core argument. You could also use examples or metaphors from daily life to give context and make it personal to them.
* Consider your use of language, metaphors and references carefully: Can they be universally culturally understood by your audience? Use simple, relatable language. Always ask yourself if there is a simpler way you can say something – there usually always is.
* Practice and get feedback from people in a similar demographic to your audience: if you are presenting to school children round up a few parents on social media send over the video file or invite them to a zoom meeting and ask them to be critical – their feedback, along with that of peers’, is invaluable.
* Enjoy it! This is an opportunity to be creative, to say in a few words why your research is important. Consider the potential impact your work has on society, on the way we live, the way we behave and the way in which we see the world and say it loud and with pride.