From strategy to presentation: how ResearchStories can help you create more impact - Research Stories
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From strategy to presentation: how ResearchStories can help you create more impact

Lonneke Opsteegh

Written by: Lonneke Opsteegh

Imagine… You’ve worked on your research/PhD-project for several years. It was difficult, but more than worth it: your results are mind blowing! And have the potential to change the lives of many people. This has to go ‘viral’! Or at least, involve the right stakeholders, reach your end-users/ intended audience and people who might benefit from your newly acquired knowledge. Your research can change, benefit or have an effect on many!

But how do you reach them and convince them of the need to incorporate your findings in their daily routines or policies? Actually… Who are your stakeholders and end-users? And where do you find them? And how do you communicate with them? Addressing stakeholders and end-users requires a specific set of skills and insights to make connections happen and to create impact.

First: build your strategy

Having a societal impact strategy for your research project helps you reach and engage stakeholders early on. Including them (already in the research design phase) makes them more involved with your project. Their feeling of ‘ownership’ increases, and they are therefore more likely to adopt your brilliant findings along the way. The other way around, your research might be enriched by questions from the stakeholders and end-users that strengthen your research results. Our expert on societal impact, Sharon Smit, can help you identify your stakeholders and end-users and help you develop a strategy to engage them and keep them connected. Are you already further in your project? No worries, we can help you connect to your stakeholders later on as well. It is never too late to get out there and connect to the wider public.

Then: prepare an engaging story

Now that you know who your stakeholders are and how to reach them, you need a powerful story to convince them. The scientific papers that you wrote earlier might be appropriate for fellow scientists but will probably not create much uproar with other experts outside of Academia. To them, your results sound a bit ‘dry’.

So, you need storytelling and impact narrative development. You need anecdotes, details, emotions. A story that will capture the attention of your audience.

Christine Taylor is our storytelling expert, with lots of experience re-defining scientific stories to make them truly interesting for your intended audience. She will tickle and trigger you until the real story comes out…

And support it with visuals

Our brain is highly visual. Yes, we do love a good story being told to us. When that story is supported with crisp and clear visuals it will make an even bigger impact. At ResearchStories we can help you design three types of visuals:

  • Data visualizations, or graphs. By picking the right type of graph for your data and your message and applying design principles, you will not have to explain your graphs anymore but can directly talk about the consequences of your findings. Lonneke Opsteegh can surely help you with improving your dataviz!
  • Conceptual visualizations, like infographics, graphical abstracts, or posters. A nicely structured infographic, visual abstract or poster, with the right icons, pictures or illustrations and a well-chosen colour palette can grab the attention of your stakeholders in a heartbeat. By using visual hierarchy, you guide your audience through the information you present. Carien Franken is our information designer who will help you create beautiful visuals which makes your audience understand your story immediately.
  • Finally, for when graphs or conceptual visualizations may not be enough and you want a completely original visual to support your story, you need one thing. You need illustrations! But drawing can be scary. Where to start? How to create depth in your illustrations? Where do you need detail, and where can you use a sketchier style? Erik Crins will guide you and make sure you create visuals that you are proud of!


Finally, present it like a star

Ok, so now you have your societal impact strategy, an attention-grabbing story, supported with beautiful visuals. The stakeholders ask you to come and TELL your story though… That’s a whole different challenge! Your words and your visuals need to work for you, support your work. And you must go up on ‘stage’ and talk to all the potential future users of your new findings. Make it or break it… You are scared as hell, don’t know where to start, where to stand, how to use your body and voice to truly reach them. Let Etienne Kreutzer, our public speaking coach, help you use these emotions to your benefit, make a real connection with your audience and create an impactful presentation.

ResearchStories course package

Well, that’s a full package, right? When you take a course from ResearchStories, you can choose the teachers and course modules you need. Every teacher has his/her own module, focusing on one of the aforementioned topics (impact strategy, impact narratives, storytelling, dataviz, conceptual visuals, scientific illustrations, and speaking). We believe that all these skills will come in handy at some point in your scientific career, so we advise you to go all out! However, you can also customize the course to your specific needs: take the core starting session, and after that take a deep-dive in the modules that fit your needs the best.

We would love to see you soon, so we can talk about how we can help you to create impact!