On Tuesday 9th July I attended the “Inspiring Engineers” Multimedia Training Day run by Fun Kids Radio. This is my report from that day, which I wrote for Faculty Marketing but also gave back to the organisers.
Fun Kids is a radio station for children that aims to entertain but also educate. This series of training days was funded by an ‘Ingenious’ grant from the Royal Academy of Engineering, which itself aims to inspire the next generation of public engagement practitioners with a specialism in engineering. We were lucky to be the guinea pigs, receiving their very first training day.
The day was divided into sessions, with two main foci : public speaking skills, and information about different media platforms. Within the public speaking skills, they included advice on performing interviews for the media, and advice on delivering a persuasive argument. The media training had a focus on radio, television, and internet broadcasting. Within this training they included the history of operation, information about current working practise, advice on getting started in the fields and specific skills training.
Approximately 12 people were present at this session. We started the day by introducing ourselves to Chris, the organiser, and each other. There were a wide variety of people and experiences, from masters students with little previous public engagement experience, to postdocs with experience in the news media (that’s me). Some people talked about why they’d come, and what they wanted for the day. One of the most common themes was a desire to build confidence and clarity in presentations. Personally, I wanted to learn more about the role of being a producer.
One of the clearest messages from the day was to think about your audience when planning your event. In any public speaking situation, planning is key. You must think about meeting your audience’s expectations, and delivering the message that you want them to take away with them. One of the most thought-provoking sessions of the day talked about using this skill when presenting to children.
Throughout the day we worked on the skills for our personal demonstrations, to be performed at the end of the day. As the day progressed, my confidence about giving my demonstration increased, because my plan improved. I am ashamed to say that I did not do much planning for my demonstration before the day, nor did I practise it. Although my demonstration went reasonably well, I certainly realised the benefits that extra planning and practise would have brought. All the members of the organising team were encouraging and highly supportive of our attempts to Wow.
The organiser, Chris, proved to be an engaging speaker. The information that was provided certainly could not have been covered in less than a day. The sessions were timed well, with lots of relevant information presented in a structured way. Learning was strengthened by frequent audio and visual examples, as well as carefully planned exercises for the group and individuals to carry out. It was highly enjoyable, and provided an excellent opportunity for young engineers to learn about different avenues of public engagement from genuine practitioners.