In this blog, we share our experience of delivering a workshop on designing a research communication plan. The event took place at the University of Sheffield on the 18th of June.
Collaborating with The University of Sheffield
As an alumna of The University of Sheffield (TUoS), it is a pleasure and an honour to collaborate with my alma mater. Moreover, TUoS was one of our first clients and has been a tremendous source of support during my entrepreneurial journey. We have collaborated with numerous researchers from TUoS. Yet, it was only at the beginning of this year that we secured our first two workshops. The first workshop I delivered in May was on communicating research beyond academia. After receiving great feedback, we were back this month talking about designing a research communication plan. The purpose of this workshop was to showcase the different communication options available to researchers. Moreover, I offered a helpful framework for designing a research communication plan.
Equipping attendees with a simple learning tool
Each attendee received a personalised 4-page workbook on designing a research communication plan. This simple learning tool enabled researchers to jot down their insights and ideas during the workshop.
The workbook also served as a space for key takeaways, which they could easily refer to after the session. This was a simple, yet very effective way to get the attendees engaged throughout the workshop.
Why design a research communication plan?
You can be just starting out, mid-way through your research, or maybe you’ve reached your conclusions. It’s never too late to start designing a research communication plan and be strategic about your dissemination efforts.
Knowing which online and offline mediums to leverage can help researchers connect with their target audiences effectively. Furthermore, a research communication plan can help you generate momentum. Lastly, it can increase your chance of reaching the audience who can benefit the most from your work.
In addition to creating a communication plan, researchers can create visual tools to showcase their findings. In our Guide to Communicating Research Beyond Academia, we offer a step-by-step process for researchers to create a 2-page visual summary. This tool can maximise the potential of research to make an impact on society because it’s easy to understand and accessible.
Designing a research communication plan
In designing a research communication plan, there are three main things to consider:
1. Set goals and objectives
The first step in designing a research communication plan is to think about your why. Identifying your purpose and reasons for communicating your research findings will guide you in setting your goals and objectives. Be specific about your goals using the SMART framework:
Being specific about your goals helps you identify who you intend to communicate to, how you plan to do this, and how you will measure success.
2. Define your audience
The second important aspect of designing a research communication plan is to identify your audience. Who among your target stakeholders is crucial to your research and where can you reach them? Who could benefit from learning about your work? Try to be as specific as possible. Rather than saying ‘policymakers’, define their department, team, job title, and even name, if you can. Finally, find out as much information as you can about them (nowadays people have large digital footprints).
3. Think about your messages
The main purpose of communicating your research findings may be the same for all audiences. However, you need to tailor your messages to your stakeholders. When designing a research communication plan, ask yourself: Why should my audience care? What will they respond to? What makes them tick? How can I grab their attention?
Delivering an interactive workshop
In these workshops, I aim to maximise learning by incorporating interactive elements. Using diverse exercises, I keep the researchers engaged, stimulated and energised.
Here are some testimonials shared by some of the workshop participants:
“This workshop was very interactive and there were lots of guidelines given to us. Mihaela was a very enthusiastic speaker and had so much positive energy!”
“What I liked most about this workshop was the various opportunities to discuss in groups. In addition, it was a very informative and practical workshop.”
“The workshop offered lots of practical examples. It was also a great opportunity to meet other researchers.”
Many thanks to Eunice Lawton for having us and congratulations to the attendees who won a copy of our Guide to Communicate Research Beyond Academia.
We just wrapped up our second workshop at @sheffielduni. Special thanks to @ShefUniImpact for having us again, and congratulations to our audience members who just won a copy of our Guide to Communicating Research Beyond Academia! 🏆🧾🌟#research #researchdesign #communication pic.twitter.com/LQQOdeJVNG
— Research Retold (@ResearchRetold) June 18, 2019
For more details about this workshop, availability and costs, please get in touch with Mihaela at firstname.lastname@example.org. Many thanks to Isabel Regino for taking photos and for livetweeting on the day.