7 tips for communicating research to the public

Advice from winner of the 3-minute-thesis competition

Our 15-minute podcast for researchers, produced in partnership with Vitae, explores this (and more) and offers up some expert insight. Listen to it below and read on for our top tips.

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to communicating your research to the public, particularly when presenting under time constraints.

We are proud to sponsor Vitae’s, Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition that challenges researchers to explain the real-world relevance of their work – in only 3 minutes. They must be clear, accessible and -importantly – engaging.

3MT’s previous winner, Vinaya Srirangam Nadhamuni, highlights 7 key points to consider when communicating research to the public.

1. Stay focused

Decide on your key points in advance. These should help illustrate the project without over-complicating things.

Ask yourself:

  • What is being done in the research?

  • Why is it important?

  • Who might it help?

2. Create a story

The key points you lift from your research often create a story. Answering the above questions will form a story around your project. This will form the skeletal framework for your talk.

You can then add any new facts to this framework, clearly highlighting their connection to the main points. This will allow the audience to follow you easily.

3. Less is more

Try to limit the number of new ideas being presented to an audience, so that their attention is not pulled in many different directions.

4. Focus on trending topics

Remove any complicating additions from the story if they don’t link directly to the main story.

Use a key topic of interest in the news, such as the pandemic. Link the research to the topic of interest can help grab your audience’s attention more quickly and help them put the research in a context they understand.

5. Use social media

One of the best methods to communicate research findings is social media. Most platforms now encourage content to be short and concise (e.g. Twitter/ TikTok).

6. Build excitement

When presenting, varying the pitch and tone of your voice can help engage your audience’s attention and highlight any key bits of information. Try talking as you normally would.

7. Practice makes perfect

Try to communicate your research to people from a different background and notice at which points of your talk they appear lost. Ask them what they found difficult to follow. These are often the points to simplify or remove.

The experts from Vitae’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition share their top tips

Where to next?

If you’ve found these tips helpful make sure you look at:

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