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How to run a public engagement event

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:

When planning an event, consider the following:



  • 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:

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.