If you want to do science with impact, communication is key. Thanks to the Flemish PhD Cup, a ‘scicomm’ competition for recent PhD graduates, I got the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn this from professionals.
When you see this tower on a crisp sunny morning, you know that magic is going to happen. It is the old broadcasting tower of the VRT, the Flemish public-service broadcaster, and it towers over the city of Brussels. And the VRT, that is where we were heading for the second weekend of intensive media training.
There, you can learn communication skills from those who know how it works: telling stories that grab people by the troath, facing the news camera without freezing into a cramp, or talking with a voice that breaths authority. They know the tricks, and showered us in them.
Even better, we learned how to think like a journalist, to facilitate the transition of our message from our heads to the little screen or the pages of the newspaper. We were trained in fascing sceptical interviewers and how to use tricky questions to strengthen our message.
And most of all, we were given opportunities: to write an article (here, in Dutch) about our work, for example, and give a 3-minute pitch about the core pointof our research.
Those presentations were judged yesterday, and 8 of the most convincing ones were given the opportunity to continue the competition and broaden their impact. I was not one of those lucky ones – dear lord were there many amazing presentations, yet for me the main reward was already won.
That main reward was in the whole learning process, and that was something all 16 participants earned the benefits from: they provided us all with the tools, the knowledge and the experience to step up our communication game in the future. And, oh boy, do I look forward to that!