Training

  • Are your colleagues lacking in confidence in talking about your charity’s research?
  • Want to apply your team’s communication skills to talking about science? 

If you work for a medical research charity, and you’re looking to help your team improve how they talk about your charity’s research, I can help.

I will work with you to create a tailor-made programme that will help your team build the skills they need to communicate confidently to supporters about science.

Building science communication skills is vital for your charity

Many of the charities I work with ask me to write content for them, if they don’t have the capacity or the skills in-house to communicate research clearly.

But this kind of ‘done-for-you’ content isn’t right for every organisation. For example, if you already have colleagues that are good at writing, maybe you feel your budget would be best invested in training.

Many people in medical research charities would benefit from improving their science communication skills. Common problems I’ve seen in the past include:

  • Being able to understand the science, but struggling to write about it at the ‘right level’ for audiences like supporters and patients.
  • Not being able to communicate research in a truly engaging and exciting way
  • Or taking a long time to get to grips with research – spending hours deciphering a research paper, for instance, just to pull out the key points.
  • A lack of understanding of some of the common terminology that often appears in scientific papers and reports (and spending a lot of time looking for definitions on Google, as a result)

Often underlying all of this is a lack of confidence. Speaking to comms professionals in medical research charities, what I often hear is they don’t feel they’re doing a good enough job. They feel talking about science clearly is not something they’re capable of, or they’re worried they’re going to get something wrong.

If you recognise any of the above in your team, and want to make a change, I’m here to help.

My philosophy

One of my core beliefs is that everyone is capable of talking about science.

Talking about science is NOT something that should only be reserved for ‘the experts’, or people who hold science degrees (or even clever-clogs professional science communicators like me).

Having spoken to a range of medical research charities, big and small, one thing I’ve found the most successful have in common is that all staff feel confident talking about their charity’s research.

It’s not the job of just one person or team to talk about research. Research is a core part of your charity’s work, and so everyone should be able to talk about it, clearly and confidently. And with the right guidance and skills, I believe everyone can.

My approach to training

  • Collaborative: I work with you and the participants to come up with the programme that addresses your specific needs. I don’t just turn up on the day with a session I’ve planned on my own.
  • Bespoke: I don’t do ‘off-the-shelf’ sessions. Even if I’m asked to deliver a training session that I’ve delivered before, I aim to create something that addresses the skills and knowledge gaps faced by your charity – not some other organisation.
  • Interactive: No-one comes to a training session excited about PowerPoint slides. I always aim to include exercises and different styles of learning that help people truly engage with the material, practice the skills they need, and build confidence.
  • Remote-first: Remote and hybrid working is the norm in the charity sector. So I create training sessions that operate entirely online, without the need for your team to travel, or the difficulties in finding a room for a session. I believe it’s possible to create online training sessions that are engaging and inclusive, as well as effective. (If you would prefer me to deliver training in person, I’d be happy to, for an extra fee).

Examples of my training

A few examples of training sessions I’ve delivered in the past include:

Science writing – an interactive, three-part programme on effective science communication, writing to a brief, and editing your own writing – to boost confidence in writing about science and making the charity’s work more understandable. Read more about this training programme here.

Clinical trial statistics – a primer for a policy team on statistics found in clinical trial papers, to help the team interpret research papers more easily and quickly.

Conducting effective interviews with scientists – an overview of some of the key things to get from an interview with a researcher, to help communications professionals in medical research charities tell better stories about the research their charity funds.

Putting together a comment for a journalist – a step-by-step process for responding to requests for comments on new research, so that charities can provide insightful comments quickly, helping to improve visibility of the charity in the media.

As well as these examples, I am happy to discuss your training needs on anything relating to science writing, interpreting research, interviewing scientists, and more.

Feedback from my sessions

“We had a great time working with Richard to improve our skills in science communication. He created a bespoke training programme for us that helped guide the team through best practise in written science communication, and raise confidence in their own skills.”

Feedback on Science Writing programme from Catriona Sinclair, Head of Fundraising and Communications at FRAME.

“[Richard is] very friendly and open and calming, which helps a range of people and personalities participate and contribute equally.”

“Thank you for running the course, it was very helpful.”

Feedback from participants in the Science Writing programme.

“Great session – thank you!”

“Thank you for a clear and engaging session, the practical exercise was also great!”

Feedback from participants in a clinical trials stats workshop.