Top tips for communicating your research

You're proud of your research, but how can you share it with the outside world? Our Communications team, Nick Hillier and Holly Rogers, share their top ten tips.

Talk about your work

Don’t just discuss your work with your peers! Seize every opportunity - it will improve your communication skills to hear different perspectives on what is interesting and what is difficult to explain about your research.

Tell the story of your research

Why do you think it is important? What you hope to achieve? A narrative and some context will make your work much easier to relate to.

Be responsive

Engage in dialogue with the world outside of science. You never know where your next collaboration or piece of inspiration might come from. Showing how your research responds to and is shaped by the needs of society will help draw people’s attention to your work.

Connect with the press

Don’t be afraid of journalists or your press office. Learn how they work and what they want. Getting your story in the media will promote you and your institution. Take advantage of free media training sessions to build your skills and a reputation as a trusted source of comment – most institutions offer their own, and there is also the BBC Expert Women programme.

Don’t be afraid to stand up

If your research area hits the headlines, don’t run and hide. If you don’t answer a journalist’s question, someone else will - and they might not be as qualified to comment as you are.

Explore social media

Don’t be afraid of social media, but don’t expect to be an expert immediately! It can feel intimidating to begin with, so take small steps. There are lots of helpful guides to getting started.

Tailor your talk

The “public” is not a single defined group, so really think about your audience when preparing for a presentation. Different people will have different interests and needs, so try and tailor your talk to your environment. Tiny font or ten slides of data is not always the most appropriate approach!

Challenge your audience

Not everyone is an absolute beginner. Don’t underestimate what the public are interested in, or what they already know. Many people are keen to get their teeth into real scientific issues, so look for opportunities to go out and talk about what you actually do. Don’t shy away from talking about real challenges and solutions.

Practice your presentations

Most institutions can offer you support and training for public speaking, so make use of it! Feeling confident about your presentation style will make you a more engaging speaker, which can be a really valuable skill. All the best speakers rehearse beforehand, so give yourself plenty of time to prepare. Watching videos of yourself and others can be really helpful.

Think outside the box

Communication isn’t confined to media interviews or talks – there are lots of other ways that you can share your research. Write a blog post, visit a classroom, speak to an artist, perform stand-up comedy...the possibilities are endless, so find something that works for you.

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