Communications Workshop

(same workshop offered 4 different times)

Free and open to ALL attendees. Class size limited to 35 registrants.

“Theory to Action: Crafting Messages for the Public about your own

Research” – Presenters: Lydia Wilkinson and Alan Chong

This 3 hour workshop follows up on the Lunch and Learn keynote with a brief review of the concepts, followed by a set of activities designed to get attendees thinking and developing a message about their own research for the public in multiple ways.

  1. Imagining an Audience and Framing their Work: (30 minutes)

We first ask attendees to imagine the characteristics of an imagined audience, focusing on why they would want to learn about the topic at hand and what they would need to know. For this imagined audience, we ask that they develop a brief message about their research (1-2 paragraphs). With a partner, we ask them to share the message and, importantly, the rationale behind their message, and discuss the success/failure of their message. This activity will highlight the importance of crafting a message for a specific audience, and will provide attendees with strategies to analyze their audience in future communication.

  1. Developing a “Pitch”: (60 minutes)

Using the feedback from the previous exercise as a starting point, we will ask attendees to reconfigure their message for an audience who might support or invest in their research. We will use the genre of the “elevator pitch” to highlight rhetorical strategies to persuade a non-expert audience. We will ask individuals to develop a short one-minute pitch, deliver that pitch within a small group, and critique that pitch for others. This activity will emphasize the value of concision and persuasion in delivering a message to non-experts, and will provide attendees with a simple tool to hone their message at home.

  1. Analogy / Metaphor: (20 minutes)

Having explained the rhetorical structure, components, and function of analogy, we will ask participants to develop an analogy explaining some aspect of their work, including identifying the source and target, and grounds and tension. In small groups, they’ll share and critique their analogies and reflect on their efficacy in communicating to non-expert audiences. This activity will provide participants with an understanding of how rhetorical tools can be used to achieve certain communication goals, laying a foundation for their use in their communicative practice.

  1. Employing a Journalistic Framework: (60 Minutes)

In the final activity, we will ask participants to imagine themselves as journalists writing about their own research. We explain the PINTS (Peg-Interesting-Novel-Tension-Significance) model, and ask groups of four to choose their own research (or a predetermined paper from the Robotics and Automation) field, and write a short article that satisfies PINTS requirements for a specific publication (and its implied audience and purpose). Sharing the articles will provide us with an opportunity to examine strategies to engage and inform non-expert audiences, while maintaining scientific accuracy.

At the end of this workshop, participants should have a set of communication artifacts – in varying stages of completion – that have allowed them to: (1) engage with their own research and (2) experiment with multiple techniques for communicating to non-experts. With these experiences in hand, we hope they leave with a better understanding of key issues and strategies for communicating with non-experts in multiple modes and contexts.

Class size will be limited to 35 registrants for each class. 
Register today for ONE of the following classes (same workshop offered 4 different times) by completing the online Registration Form:

Thursday, 23 May from 9:00-12:30 in room 523
Thursday, 23 May from 13:30-17:00 in room 523
Friday, 24 May from 9:00-12:30 in room 522a
Friday, 24 May from 13:30-17:00 in room 523