How to run a public engagement event
Hosting public engagement events is an important way to share your research with the public: this can generate feedback, contribute to public health awareness and justify use of public funds. Funders often require evidence of public engagement.
A useful guide on designing public engagement material is available here: http://senseaboutscience.org/activities/public-engagement-guide/
When planning an event, consider the following:
- What will you do? Tailor it to your audience. A number of template resources are available on the RCPath website
- What materials will you require? Will you provide handouts? The RCPath public engagement team have promotional materials which you can request https://www.rcpath.org/discover-pathology/events-landing-page/promoting-your-event.html
- Will you register the event with RCPath https://www.rcpath.org/discover-pathology/events-landing-page/register-an-event.html
- Will you distribute feedback forms?
- Why do you want to hold the session? What’s the purpose? What’s the motivation?
- What’s the message? Is there a public health message?
- Who is your target audience?
- How will you promote the event?
- How many people do you want to reach?
- Will people ‘register’ for the event?
- Do you need to print a sign-in sheet? Do you need to create name badges?
- Who will you collaborate with: colleagues, your University, museums, art galleries, artists, schools, charities?
- When do you want to hold the session?
- How long do you need to plan it?
- Do you want it to coincide with the RCPath National Pathology Week, a local event, a charity campaign or public health message?
- Where are you planning on holding the session? In your department? In a school? In your University? In a museum? In an art gallery?
- Do you need to book the venue? Is there an associated charge?
- Do you need to arrange tea/coffee or catering?
- What audio-visual equipment is there?
- What is the room layout? What are the housekeeping instructions? (e.g. nearest toilets, what to do in the event of a fire alarm etc.)
A number of organisations such as PathSoc and the RCPath offer public engagement grants. It’s worth applying even if just for a small amount of money to help run your event; it allows you to practise applying for grants and is a useful addition to your CV.
Patient and public engagement
Would it be useful to have input from a patient or public representative when planning your event?
The RCPath runs a ‘science communication’ training course: https://www.rcpath.org/discover-pathology/events-landing-page/science-communication-training.html
After the event:
- Debrief: reflect on what went well, what could have gone better, collate and go through the feedback.
- Consider writing about the experience e.g. submit a short appraisal to the RCPath Bulletin, ACP News etc. (contact the Editor in the first instance).
- If you received a grant, write to the funder with a summary of the session to thank them. Make sure you have permission to use any photographs.
- Update your CV.