Science communication helps the public to understand your science – and you to get more confident when presenting. It’s a win-win!
The bad news about giving presentations: Getting comfortable in your own skin while presenting will take you a lot of practice. The good news: If you keep on taking every opportunity to do so, you will be surprised by how quickly you will get better at it. A great way for doing this is diving into science communication. Giving short talks about your science for non-specialists not only is a fun challenge, but will give you confidence and others a glimpse of the fascination that science is. Here are 5 worldwide science communication events that are happening every year and don’t need excessive preparation – just you talking about what you do and love.
1. The quick one: FameLab
FameLab is a yearly science communication competition, organized by the British Council, and takes place in over 35 countries. Scientists and science lovers from all around the world meet first in local, then national rounds, and finally in an international finale at Cheltenham Science Festival. Everyone studying or researching natural sciences or engineering is welcome.
You are given a stage, an audience and 3 minutes time to explain whatever aspect of science you desire. FameLab is all about inspiring people, so don’t be afraid to be funny or to try out crazy things. See FameLab less as a competition and more as a playground to educate your audience about the topics that are important to you. Preparation can be done quick and easy. At FameLab events, you’ll meet compassionate and enthusiastic scientists. And isn’t that all we really need as motivation?
I had the pleasure of taking part in FameLab myself this year. Check out my science pitch about the magic of catalysis for some inspiration and let me know what you think of it in the comments below!
2. The innovative one: Falling Walls Lab
Falling Walls Lab is an international competition that takes place in over 50 countries worldwide. The special twist of this event is its focus in innovative ideas. The stage is open to any scientist, entrepreneur, or creator and is perfect for you if you think your research might be part of a bigger solution to today’s political and scientific challenges.
Much like in FameLab, you are given 3 minutes of stage time to pitch your research work, business idea, or initiative concept to a general audience and a jury. If you get lucky, you will be send to showcase your ideas at the international finale, taking place every year during the Falling Walls Conference in Berlin.
3. The festival: Pint of Science
Pint of Science is a global festival that happens once a year in over 400 cities around the world – everywhere at the same time. The idea of the festival is that the audience doesn’t have to come to you – you take your science to the audience. In pubs, bars and cafés, you present your science in whichever way suits you best. A podium discussion? A presentation? A game for the audience? Yes, yes, and yes. All fields of research are welcome.
The best part: Pint of Science is a grassroots movements, so even if your city has not yet taken part in the initiative, you can become an active part of the community, get together with other local scientists and organise your own version of the festival yourself!
4. The empowering one: SoapboxScience
SoapboxScience hosts events all around the world and is focussed on giving a stage to female scientists.
Their motto is “Bringing science to the people”, and they keep this promise. In a SoapboxScience event, you get a podium or table much like in London’s Hyde Park Speakers’ Corner and are free to present your science to a broad audience in every way you desire. From an entertaining talk, to show experiments, to controversial discussions – everything is allowed. Who could have known how easy it is to become a role model?
5. The wild card: Invite the public to your institution
Whether you take part in a city initiative or create an outreach event just within your own institute, inviting the general public to come visit your lab has many benefits. Take such a day or night as a great opportunity to get your presentation confidence going. Give a lab tour or create an experience in which the audience can experiment with your methods and topics, while you give them insights into your research.
Events like this are especially rewarding for you since you interact with your audience on a very personal level. Over the day-to-day challenges of your science, you might have forgotten how crazy and amazing your project really is. Explaining your science to other people and seeing their eyes become wide with fascination will surely bring back your own admiration for your work.
Featured Image: © Pint of Science
Did you ever take part in a science communication event? Which one? How was your experience with it? Share your insights in the comment section below!