Guest post by Antonia Desmond (PhD student, University College London, UK)
The Biochemical Society, Society for Experimental Biology and the British Ecological Society invited 40 young researchers to participate in a communication training workshop on June 7 2012. The aim was to enhance communication skills and help researchers to better demonstrate the impact of scientific research to schools and the general public.
The day started with an insightful plenary lecture by Alun Anderson (former editor of New Scientist) entitled “Life as a hack”. Alun elaborated on his experiences in scientific journalism before moving on to talk about his travels to the Arctic and Antarctic to research his book, After the Ice (HarperCollins 2009). Jeremy Pritchard (University of Birmingham, UK) followed on with “If you don’t talk about it you haven’t done it: examples, strategies and justifications for communicating your science”. Jeremy spoke of how to engage students in science using more exciting techniques, including using e-learning and social media to grab the audience’s attention.
The afternoon session dispersed everyone into small discussion groups where each member described their own communication idea. All groups had a common theme ranging from establishing new publications, to setting up workshops to attract school children into science. Following discussions, the ideas were planned out on a poster and subjected to a silent debate. Each poster was assessed by all participants and anonymous comments left. The feedback was then viewed by the author and passed onto their group for further discussions. The workshop was concluded by some general comments from Alun and Jeremy on the ideas they had seen and gave much encouragement to the audience to just “go for it”.
In the evening, drinks and nibbles gave the participants the opportunity to network allowing earlier ideas to form solid foundations.