Workshop 1: How to successfully communicate science

Dario Del Moro, Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata

About a month has passed since the end of the first SWATNet Workshop “How to successfully communicate science: Posters, Talks and Papers”.

The workshop was meant to provide our young researchers with tools and ideas on how to convey effectively their results in various events and activities, such as conference talks or poster presentations, and also give them a chance to practice giving a talk about their research.

The actual planning of the Workshop took approximately two months. Taking into consideration the feedback received after the previous SWATNet training School, we decided to have a somewhat lighter schedule. The agenda was shaped with slots for up to three frontal lessons in the morning, plus one additional frontal lesson in the afternoon, followed by personal or group work.

Due to the restriction for the pandemics, the Workshop was conducted online via Zoom online meeting platform. On one hand, it is always a pity to miss the opportunity to meet in person and it is harder to teach something online. On the other end, Zoom allowed us to record lectures (theory and practice) so that the participants could re-watch the material at their own pace.

I will not go into the details of the many and extremely interesting presentations given by ‘us the professors’. I want instead to focus on a couple of sessions.

First, the high engagement obtained during the session titled “How to prepare a pitch talk” by Dr. Jorge Pimenta. Jorge works as a project manager and is Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship and Business. During his lecture, he explained how to structure a very compact talk, how to best convey the idea in a short time and convince the audience about its solidity. He was indeed very convincing! Below are some scattered tips he provided for a pitch talk:

  • The key thing is to capture interest
  • Engage to communication your personal traits and personality
  • Tell a story
  • Have a clear main message and align with the audience
  • Practice
  • Be honest
  • Have a surprise factor/hook

Second, the group work on “How to read and assess a manuscript“. The assignment was to provide constructive feedback in the form of comments and suggestions to scientific texts other ESRs had prepared in the previous school to make them publishable on the SWATNet website as outreach material. We provided some general instructions for points to pay attention to when giving suggestions and for the review process – a reviewer’s etiquette tips that we together with Prof. Manolis Georgoulis came up with. This activity was meant to simulate the peer reviewing process that each ESR will experience in the very next years when publishing their research works.

After the Workshop we asked the participants for feedback via an online anonymous survey. Well, apparently they enjoyed it: they liked the agenda, time organization and on general the Workshop.

So, SWATNet ESRs have learned some tips and tricks about their future job: how to present, how to cope (at least partially) with the stress of public speaking, how tedious can be revising your own text because a referee asked for changes!

And, what WE learned from the Workshop? First, we found that the duration of two days is very suitable for the workshop format and we will keep this in mind for organization of future workshops in the framework of SWATNet. Second, we found out that “our” ESRs are already very good at writing and reviewing their texts. They are now at the SWATNet webpage.


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