Every Friday we select one of the UK’s most interesting trainers and give you a chance to get a new skill or idea from them cheaply, quickly and easily.
New thinking for less money than a halloumi wrap, all delivered on Zoom for easy access.
Every session runs from 1230-1330 UK time, and tickets cost a fiver (£5 plus small booking fee).
19th August – Rachel Kahn, “Nothing about us without us” – why you need to write about your research, and how to do it.
It’s simple: in almost all cases, your research is funded by the person you walk past on your way into the lab. Whether they’ve been paying their taxes, or donated to a charity, they all have a stake in the research you carry out and should be able to understand it. That means you should probably be able to explain it without using words like “flow cytometry” or “neo-peptides” *gulp*. This session will cover the basics of how you can write about your research in an easy and engaging way.
ABOUT THE TRAINER: Rachel Kahn is one of the UK’s leading experts in communicating medical research to people directly affected by it. Her career has focussed on talking and writing for patients, their families and communities, and the people who fund and volunteer for research. She is the Senior Research Communications Manager at Blood Cancer UK, and has previously worked for Breast Cancer Now, The British Science Association and the Wellcome Trust.
Films, eh? They make us laugh, cry, scream, transport us to faraway places and times, inspire us to buy stuff or behave in certain ways…But how and why do they affect us as viewers? Getting beyond stories and characters, this session offers a selection of ways to slice up a film sequence, to gain a richer sense of how a film does what it does. We’ll look at 4 Cs: context, camerawork, cutting, colour; and 4 Ss: sound, subtitles, senses, and spectacle. Maybe you’ll notice new things about your favourite director’s style, or get fresh inspiration for your next video project. So that we all have a common point of reference, I’d like to invite participants to watch a little gem of a short film in advance: an Oscar-nominated tourist film from 1960, A City Called Copenhagen. It’s free to watch here: https://tinyurl.com/569zc8z7
ABOUT THE TRAINER: Claire Thomson is Professor of Cinema History at UCL, where she makes all her students start their MA by writing a 5-minute film sequence analysis, like the one we’re going to craft collectively in this session. Her research mostly focuses on obscure aspects of Nordic cinema history, including Dogme 95, public information films, propaganda, and short films.
Is your research interesting? Does it give you a unique insight into what’s going on in the world? Would you like to write about it for people who aren’t at universities? Would you like to learn how to pitch great article ideas to newspapers and magazines, develop your non-academic voice, and maybe even get paid for writing words? This session will help you do just that. Together we’ll look at successful and not-so successful pitches, learn how to sell your ideas and opinions to journalists and editors, and discuss the basics of freelance writing. We’ll talk about where to send your pitches to, what ideas make great articles, and how to transfer your academic skills into journalistic ones. You should come prepared with a general idea for an article you’d like to pitch.
ABOUT THE TRAINER: Dr Agnes Arnold-Forster is a freelance writer and historian of science, medicine, and healthcare. She works at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and has been published in places like The Times, The Independent, The Guardian, The TLS, The LRB, Stylist, Slate, History Today, The Daily Dot, The Washington Post, The Conversation, Tribune, and Refinery29. She also writes books and her biography of nostalgia is being published by Picador in 2024.
What ideas can you steal from the world of standup comedy if you’ve got a real job? If telling jokes helps build resilience, mental wellbeing, team cohesion and generally helps work be bearable (it does all these things) how can we do it without being fired?
In this session we’ll look at work-safe joke structures, as well as examining what comedy’s treatment of power dynamics can teach us about building supportive workplaces. You will be asked to write jokes. You won’t have to read them out to anyone.
ABOUT THE TRAINER: Steve Cross is a freelance consultant who specialises in making experts into the most engaging and effective version of themselves. He’s the founder of Fiver Fridays and has won pretty much every award for science communication.
Before he was freelance Steve held down jobs at UCL, Wellcome, The Centre for Life, The Science Museum and Nesta, taking the p**s the whole time, and never getting fired.
Steve’s photo is by Ian Bowkett.
16th September – Dr Claire Price – writing about science for the public
Storytelling lies at the heart of effective science communication and is one of the oldest, most powerful and universal tools that humans use to understand the world around us, but why do some stories endure while others are forgotten? Findings from the field of cultural evolution have demonstrated that, with stories, information is transmitted more faithfully when it is social or survival information, negatively framed information, counterintuitive, and can also be affected by the perceived prestige of the storyteller.
In this session, Hannah Little will talk you through findings from work in cognitive science, and present results from her own work that tests these biases in an applied context of science communication. We will also consider potential issues when applying biases to presenting information in science communication in certain fields, when the objectives of science communication may not be aligned with (or even contradict) framing techniques that make information more memorable and reproducible.
30th September – Eva Amsen, Freelance Science Journalist
The internet is a great tool for communication, but break the law online and you can face huge fines, lawsuits, or even police investigations. This session will equip you with an understanding of the common legal risks re: digital communications – be that your blog, podcast, newsletter, videos, or social media channels – and tell you how to avoid them.
Whether you’re dubious about defamation, concerned about copyright or puzzled about police matters, this session is the perfect beginner’s guide to media law (and a useful refresher for more experienced comms professionals). Test your knowledge with interactive quizzes on common ‘risky’ scenarios, plus there’ll be real-life case studies & useful resources signposted too.
We’ll cover all the need-to-know essentials in one hour and potentially save you a fortune on lawyers!*
Dr Holly Powell-Jones is the founder of Online Media Law UK and has been providing expert education and consultancy in this area since since 2013. She is a broadcast journalist turned lecturer whose PhD asked a bunch of teenagers the question: “What do you think is illegal to post online?”
She’s designed and delivered police-funded projects educating tens of thousands of kids, consulted with the Law Commission on their review of social media offences, and contributed to several research projects on social media, crime, law, online abuse & safety. She is proud to be part of the GEC and a VCPB award winner 2020 for her work in schools.
See HollyPJ.com for more or follow @Holly_PJ / @OnlineMediaLaw on Twitter
*Please note: Holly would like you all to know that she is not a lawyer and therefore cannot give “legal advice”: She will urge you to pay for one if you are in legal trouble!
This session is about reading. Specifically, it’s about reading all the very important things that aren’t the actual words themselves. We’ll be discussing power dynamics, euphemism, implication, and pointed omissions – the bits where you know something’s going on, but it gets slippery when you try to pin down exactly how you know it. You’ll leave with a working overview of what speech act theory is, and how to apply it to your reading and writing.
Dr. Zoë McGee is a specialist in eighteenth century literature who focuses on how novels were used to advocate for sexual violence victims. Because the eighteenth century wasn’t too keen on women openly talking about sex – let alone sexual violence – she has years of experience pinning down deliberately slippery dialogue and plausible deniability euphemisms. An award-winning research communicator, Zoë can often be found guesting on podcasts, YouTube series, and stand-up comedy nights.
21st October – Paul Duncan McGarrity, Archaeologist
18th November – Susan Wallace, Change Manager
29th July 2022 – Dr. Anna Ploszajski – Sell Yourself with Story: Autobiographical Storytelling 101
5th August 2022 – Kip Heath – Public Engagement as an Introvert
12th August – Dr Hannah Thompson – How to stand out for startup roles