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Guest Blog – Scientist Media Training

Media TrainingMy team is one of the  four recipients of the new round of funding by the ESRC-NIHR Dementia Research Initiative 2018. An amazing thing that the ESRC does is providing support to its funded researchers to undertake media training. Because in our team we understand the power of communication and we are committed to raise awareness and increase public education about dementia, we greatly appreciated this opportunity.

So, a few weeks ago, our project manager liaised with ESRC and Inside Edge to organise a one-day training course for some members of our team. We completed the course last week and I must say this was one of the most exciting and entertaining events I have attended in years. The facilitators managed to keep us totally plugged in during the entire day. It was a great learning and lots of fun … which it should not be surprising since the trainers of this course are Chris Jameson and Tony Prideaux, two senior BBC journalists with heaps of experience and also founders of Inside Edge Training [1], an agency devoted to providing media training to researcher and other professionals. They are funny and fresh and have a quick wit that sparks warm energy and good vibe around the room. They provided us with lots of practical advice, supported by role-playing, multimedia learning tools, and real practice. You really need to undertake the course to understand and register its content but, I will share three fundamental teachings that I took away that day:

The way Chris and Tony help you understand this last point is by practicing. In your course with them you will have to prepare a summary of your research in a few minutes. And a top line. Then you will be interviewed by one of them. You will be recorded. You will listen to the record afterwards and will get feedback about areas of improvement. You will be interviewed again later (and recorded again). You may perform worse than the first time – or feel that you are performing worse-  because you will get distracted thinking of the checklist of things you want to improve this time. I personally wanted to crawl under the table when I listened to my two recordings. Crawl and cover my head with my coat and stay there and stop speaking either English or Spanish, just stick to signing for the rest of my life. But this was just for a while. Because then I remembered something that might also help you if you also find this kind of experience daunting (and you break into fits of drama as I do). Remember:

The skills you will gain are the foundation of the art of effective and engaging communication and this training will serve you for a range of purposes. For example, I care a lot about effective communication also because I am a health activist. In particular, I seek to make an influence to see more dementia-friendly communities springing around me. I am currently trying to set up a network of Memory Cafes in my home region back in Spain. This involves holding meetings with the local neighbourhood associations and having just a few minutes each time to capture their attention, instil the greatest interest and convince them that supporting me to start a Cafe in their area is the most exciting and important mission ever. I have started using the learnings from the media course when doing this and I can already see how my message travels more clearly, more powerfully and pulls in more people than it used to do before.

I highly recommend this course to everyone. And while doing it, remember to focus on the fact that you are building a skill that is a tool to do good. Your research and your passion are supposed to be making a difference. Tell the world about it.


Author

Dr Aida Suarez-Gonzalez [2]is a Clinical Neuropsychologist and Research Associate at the Dementia Research Centre, UCL Institute of Neurology at Queen Square. With many years clinical experience working in Spain, Aida now investigating non-pharmacological interventions, services and assistive technologies to support people living well with dementia.

Follow @Aida_Suarez_ [3]