On the first day the participants worked with mentors on a range of communication techniques, including storytelling techniques (Jessica Rohde); producing videos in iMovie (Sonja Bickford); and using social media for science communication (Hanne Nielsen). Mentors also provided best practice advice on how to communicate science to policy makers and the public (Nate Bickford), and ways of communicating with the media (Markku Heikkilä).

The theme of knowing your audience was common across all three sessions. For those wanting to inform evidence-based policy, Nate Bickford stressed the importance of communicating with policy makers at a local level, and with policy advisors. During the social media session, Hanne Nielsen outlined a range of tools available on social media, from the academic-focussed Researchgate through to popular platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Participants were asked to consider how they “brand” themselves as researchers, and which networks they are a part of, and to then choose a platform that would help them reach their desired networks.

All participants developed an “elevator pitch” about their own research, and practised explaining the significance of their work to each other. They then considered how they might alter the pitch when talking to a range of specific audiences, including policy makers, family members, and young children. In order to develop skills in both speaking to camera and editing video, these pitches were filmed. Participants then put their new skills into practice throughout the duration of the congress, tweeting from the sessions, and using their elevator pitches when explaining their research to other delegates.

We asked one of the participants, Dina Brode-Roger from KU Leuven, about her experiences:

Just finishing up my first year of PhD research, I jumped at the opportunity to participate in the science communication workshop in Oulu. As important as our research is, it’s just as important to be able to discuss it with peers and communicate it to a wider audience. What I found most useful was working on the elevator pitch and presenting it to the other participants for constructive feedback. It was also interesting to listen to the other pitches and to try to figure out what was working or what to suggest to make the pitch even better.

The workshop culminated in the production of a video, which highlights the UArctic conference activities (including twitter activity), as well as the projects of several participants. The video, which was presented at the Helsinki welcoming reception on Thursday evening on September 6th, can be viewed here.