As an Early Stage Researcher on the PROTECTED (Protection Against Endocrine Disruptors) Project – I have come to appreciate the importance and value of communicating about science in a way that is more meaningful to the diverse range of audiences/publics we must engage with. Our international project ultimately is about world health and well-being, and exploring the links between potentially dangerous chemicals and illnesses such as cancer, obesity, diabetes or infertility. These issues affect everyone. In that way our scientific research is important but equally so is the need to find new methods of telling our story, revealing our findings and sharing our results so ordinary people can understand and benefit from it.
PROTECTED has given us new insight into the communications tools available to us. At our June summer school at Queen’s University, Belfast we underwent media training in preparation for a social media video campaign that has recently run on Facebook and Twitter. It pushed us all out of our comfort zone but it was great to learn about the tools and tactics behind communications that will help us talk about our work now and in the future
For that reason, I want to share another experience with public engagement I had in Aberdeen at the European Researchers’ Night; a Europe-wide public event dedicated to popular science and fun learning involving 300 cities and taking place every year at the end of September. Among a range of other events, I chose to give a presentation ‘Tokyo Style’ at a PechaKucha Night because it really captured my imagination.
PechaKucha is ‘the art of concise presentation.’ It is a simple format using 20 automatically switching images every 20 seconds for a total of six minutes and 40 seconds. The ingenious idea was devised in Tokyo in February 2003 at an event for young designers to meet, network and show their work in public. The idea has now gone viral and takes place in over 1,000 cities across the world. PechaKucha nights are informal and fun gatherings where people of all kinds and backgrounds get together and share ideas, work and thoughts.
This was my first attempt and it was definitely challenging especially time managing the slides which change every 20 seconds without control. The format might appear simple but it takes a huge amount of work, thinking and creativity to get the right balance between time, content, pictures and engagement with the public. I really enjoyed the experience and will definitely do it again. I would strongly encourage everyone to try it at least once. It’s not only great fun but also helps to provide new perspectives on your research. Have you ever thought how you would communicate a very difficult concept with only one picture and against a ticking clock?
PechaKucha is not just about presenting amazing results and publications; it is also about the love of science and the genuine excitement to be had from sharing what you do in new and innovative ways. I think it is important to present science passionately and in a way that excites others. Sometimes we forget but this is important to remember. To find out more my presentation will be uploaded on www.pechakucha.org/cities/aberdeen in the weeks ahead.