In this blog, we share our experience of attending and presenting at the mHabitat Lunch and Learn event in Leeds.
The event took place on Tuesday, the 11th of June at Co>Space North, Leeds.
Making an impact through speaking engagements and workshops
One of our main intentions for 2019 was to speak at more events and deliver workshops. Just halfway through 2019, I think that we have done well on that intention by being involved in numerous speaking engagements. One of the things that I love about public speaking is the ability to connect to an audience, sharing what I am passionate about, and the work we do at Research Retold.
Events and workshops are fantastic for engaging with our community and meeting new people. Moreover, trying out different formats for audience engagement and testing various presentation styles has also been a fun learning opportunity for me.
The ‘Lunch and Learn’ event was a new format that was introduced to us by mHabitat. It involves learning something new while eating lunch. mHabitat is an NHS hosted team specialising in co-design, digital skills & inclusion, policy & strategy evaluation.
The Lunch and Learn series is one of their monthly initiatives to promote transparency so that others may benefit from their knowledge and experience by running their own open learning events and activities. For example, last month the topic was on AI in healthcare delivered by Dr David Wong, University of Leeds.
Tailoring our presentation style based on this unique event format presented both a challenge and a learning opportunity.
mHabitat Lunch and Learn – Making Research digestible
I decided to serve a platter of knowledge at the mHabitat event about making research digestible. For the 1 hour session, I included group discussions, case study presentations, and questionable food puns. In my presentation, I covered why researchers should engage with wider audiences and how to bridge the gap between theory and practice. I kicked off the session by asking the audience:
What is the first word that springs to mind when you hear ‘research’?
These words came up:
Throughout the session, I provided opportunities for the audience to engage with one another and to share insights. For example, I asked people to put themselves in the shoes of an academic. How would they benefit by communicating their work outside academia?
Conversely, I asked participants to think like an NGO. Why would they want to work with a university under a co-production model?
I also shared insights into these two communities. On the one hand, the researchers who come from specialist fields and who cook up the scientific evidence. They produce long technical reports with the aim to make a change.
On the other hand, we have those who are hungry for evidence, referring to the wide range of audiences who would benefit from learning from the findings. These would be policymakers, entrepreneurs, practitioners, NGOs, CSOs, and more. When these two communities don’t communicate, the planned impact is hampered since people can’t digest or engage with the research findings.
How can academics and communities work together?
To solve this problem, I offered insights into how academics can collaborate with audiences outside academia.
First, by cooking together or, in other fancy words, through co-production. Under this model, researchers embed the evidence needs of the non-academic group in the project from the onset. Consequently, there is a better chance that the evidence will be used in the real world.
Second, by sharing the food or, in other fancy words, through dissemination and knowledge exchange. Under this model, the academics are proactive to share their findings in accessible formats to targeted audiences.
Finally, the Lunch and Learn event concluded with a conversation about various case studies and with an exercise of evaluating some of these visual summaries produced by Research Retold. One of the members of the audience, Maddie, shared:
‘I like to look at something that is designed consistently with the service that created it. It allows me to get a sense of what the document and service are about.’
Overall, the Lunch and Learn event was a great platform to share insights in an informal setting. Special thanks to Natalie Nelissen from mHabitat for the invite. Also, congratulations to Steve for winning a copy of Guide to Communicating Research Beyond Academia!
Thanks for coming to yesterday’s Lunch & Learn 🥗event at @wearemHabitat, @@SorayaNicoleGal, @zorathinks @Kimljohnston! Congratulations @naturepictaker for winning a copy of our Guide! 🌟 #research #research #researchimpact #impact #scicomm #communication #data pic.twitter.com/ZCnVDeCxHj
— Research Retold (@ResearchRetold) June 12, 2019
Many thanks to Isabel Regino for taking photos and for livetweeting on the day.