ResearchFest: 7 ways to communicate your research effectively

23 May 2016

Dr Jessamyn Fairfield, Dr Joseph Roche, Dr David McKeown and Dr Shane Bergin on stage at the Inspirefest Fringe last year – would you like to be up there this year? Photo: Conor McCabe Photography

The deadline for entries to ResearchFest at Inspirefest has been extended to this Friday (27 May), and if you’re still prepping your submission, we have some communication tips from the experts at SNP.

ResearchFest is offering researchers the chance to share their work with the Inspirefest Fringe audience this summer. PhD students from across STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths), humanities and social science have been invited to submit a three-minute video summarising their research in plain English. Don’t worry, we’re not expecting high-quality production – even a video taken on your smartphone will do the trick. The key is your research and your communication of that research.

Research communication isn’t easy, but it’s a vital skill for up-and-comers to master. Those shortlisted for ResearchFest will receive expert communication training from SNP Communications in advance of their Inspirefest debut on 30 June, while the person with the winning presentation will get two sessions with an SNP coach as part of their prize.

These sessions will be tailored to what would most benefit the winner, equipping them to present their research and ideas effectively via any medium. But first, entrants need to get their three-minute video into the Inspirefest team quick!

Sound tricky? Not to worry. The communications experts at SNP have some pointers for you.

Focus on what’s relevant to your audience

Your ideas make sense you because they’re yours. Set aside what you want to say and think about what you want your audience to hear. Craft your message in a way that will be clear and relevant to your audience.

Link your message to your call to action

Ask yourself: who is your audience and what do they care about? The key takeaways from your pitch should link what your audience cares about to what you want them to do.

Structure your story

Your content’s structure can help you tell a story that your audience will follow. The ‘Situation, Problem, Solution, Benefit’ structure is great for pitching, but others are equally effective.

Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself

Audiences are passive, so don’t fear repetition. A tried and tested piece of advice for presentations, often attributed to Aristotle, is to tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them.

Maintain good physical skills

Good eye contact with your audience can build trust and credibility. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms loosely at your sides. It’s hard to stand still but it’s less distracting to your audience than pacing or wobbling, and allows them to focus fully on your content. You can’t plan gestures so let them happen naturally, but return to resting your hands loosely to your sides if you’re doing something distracting or repetitive.

Keep your volume up

Speaking just a little louder than normal will remove any nervous quiver from your voice, animate your face, and improve your inflection. Great volume ensures that you’re heard and makes you more interesting to your audience.

Practice your opening

You’ll be the most nervous during the first 30 seconds of your pitch. Take the time to practice your opening until you feel completely comfortable.

To enter ResearchFest, send your three-minute video – or links to the video – to with ResearchFest in the subject line. Closing date for entries is midnight this Friday (27 May).

One outright winner will be announced on the evening of 30 June, once our visiting judges and communications experts have deliberated, and we have some exciting prizes for the winner that include the SNP masterclasses, a full profile of you and your research on… and a few surprises.

Inspirefest is Silicon Republic’s international event connecting sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM. Join us again from 30 June to 2 July 2016 for fresh perspectives on leadership, innovation and diversity. Book your tickets now.

Ann O’Dea is the CEO and co-founder of Silicon Republic and the founder of Future Human