Amplifying Research

You’re listening to Amplifying Research with Chris Pahlow. After 15 years working as a professional storyteller, I’m now on a mission to help make sure that incredible research all around the world generates real impact with the help of effective engagement and communication. Find out more at

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8 hours ago

Today's episode is a deep dive with Dr Mark Boulet.
Mark is the Environment Portfolio Lead for BehaviourWorks Australia, which is based in the Monash Sustainable Development Institute, and it's the largest applied behaviour change research unit in Australia.
So far on this show, we've talked a lot about communicating and engaging with different types of stakeholders and audiences. But it's one thing to get people to understand your research, to know something new, but what if you want them to do something new? What if you want to actually change their behavior?
This is exactly what Mark and I discussed in today's episode. Our conversation covers —
Changing behaviour ≠ increasing understanding
A 101 breakdown of behaviour change
Changing the behaviour of a group of people
Being more targeted
Taking advantage of industry partnerships
How institutions can help
When to call in the experts
Enjoy, and stay tuned for our next episode. Amplifying Research's release schedule is now switching to every other week, so episode 13 will be released two weeks after today's.
Find Dr Mark Boulet online:
BehaviourWorks INSPIRE framework
Find Chris online:
Hosted and produced by Chris Pahlow
Edited by Laura Carolina Corrigan
Consulting Producers Maia Tarrell and Michelle Joy
"I think even a researcher just taking a little bit of time to inform themselves around how humans tick can give them some insights around how they communicate their research. And that's really at the heart of it."
"One of the things that we often say at Behaviour Works, particularly when we're working with research partners or when we're teaching courses is, you are not your target audience. What motivates you is more than likely not gonna motivate the people that you're engaging with..."
"If you want someone to take up a behaviour, make it easy for them to do so. Make it attractive so they can see the benefits to themselves. Make it social and make it timely."
"It could even be being a little bit more target about when people may actually be paying attention to the thing that you're interested in... This is why a lot of groups talk to people about a particular issue on days, you know, biodiversity day or forest appreciation day or all that sort of stuff. It's because you know that you've got a greater chance of talking to people about your issue when they're actually paying attention to it. "
"We often talk about, we need to create culture shift within an organisation or we need to create a social norm around this sort of thing. You can't create a social norm within a day, right? A social norm is a cumulative thing. And I would say that's the same thing with amplifying research, right? It's a cumulative thing. And most of your guests, you know, when you listen to their stories, it's been repeated attempts to engage, and then as a result, they've had an impact, right? And it's been a big, exciting impact, but it's very rarely just, wow, they just got up one morning and thought I'm going to be really impactful, right?"
"Sometimes with these research partnerships, and suspect it's also when it comes to questions around communicating and amplifying research, we need to take our research hats off sometimes... And realise that the things that motivate your colleagues in the discipline, the things that motivate the reviewers of your papers, the arguments that you have and the things that make you get very excited at conferences are probably the things that are going to bore and annoy the people that are outside of your discipline."
"As a general idea, you know, even being a little bit more nuanced in how universities see and define impact could be helpful. You know, we have this sort of general expectation that we need to be impactful, but what does that mean? Is impactful a conversation article that you've had half a dozen comments on? Or is being impactful the fact that you've worked with a community organisation for two years and you've generated a number of useful reports for them? A little bit more nuance around how we understand and define impact within the university sector, and then obviously how we recognise it... I think the university sector and the research sector talks good game around impact. And yet still it's the traditional metrics of research income and publication that gets you promoted."

Tuesday Apr 16, 2024

Today's episode is a deep dive with Amy Bugeja, Manager of Engagement and Strategy at the Contemplative Studies Centre at the University of Melbourne.
In 2019 the University awarded her the Excellence in Engagement award for the development of PsychTalks, the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences forum for ideas and discussion.
Our conversation covers —
The importance of engagement
Attracting donors
The importance of close relationships between researchers and comms/engagement staff
Using different formats/mediums for different types of people
Communicating your team's mission
Interdisciplinary communication and collaboration
The benefits of decentralising support teams
Enjoy, and stay tuned for next week's episode. We'll be releasing weekly for the first 12 episodes, and then switching to every other week to give us a bit more time to release some of the other exciting Amplifying Research projects we have in store for you.
Find Amy Bugeja online:
Contemplative Studies Centre
PsychTalks Podcast
Find Chris online:
Hosted and produced by Chris Pahlow
Edited by Emily Bird and Laura Carolina Corrigan
Consulting Producers Maia Tarrell and Michelle Joy
"It was really essential having some type of stakeholder management, engagement role at the helm of this because we're looking outside of the ivory tower where we're really trying to embed, our work actively in the community. So it's just not possible if you don't have that dedicated resource."
"Just have that little thought in the back of your mind of what would you do if you were given 10 million dollars?  How could you change the world that we live in for the better?"
"Putting yourself out there, doing as much media as possible. If you're not comfortable in front of the camera or doing really accessible public panel sessions, then write for the conversation or pursuit or find the different channels out there that are going to reach the audience that you want to reach, knowing your audience and who you want to communicate to is the most important thing."
"It's really important to be able to record these things in different formats for different people. Everyone's consuming media in such different ways these days, whether it's by podcast... Radio... Some people like to sit down and watch YouTube... Others just want to read a conversation piece or have that translated into something super accessible in maybe the Herald Sun or something like that. So really making sure you can get the breadth of audience, the largest breadth of audience as possible."
"So I guess allowing those science communicators or event managers, whoever it is you have working with you, the space to learn how to innovate, making sure they're getting professional development, making sure they're having time to talk with their colleagues so we can learn from each other."
"Look for slow news cycles, if you want to be pushing something out there into the more general realm. Ensuring that you have something that's really groundbreaking that you haven't offered to anyone else. and making really, really great relationships with those journos who are happy to publish things like that."
"The more I talk about this, I'm like, Oh my gosh, it is so much work for any one researcher to do all this. It is a ridiculous amount of work. But it is the model that we've found that's working in this new landscape that we're operating in."
"It's because the Centre is smaller that I really understand what is happening in all aspects of the Centre's research and education. When I had this similar role in psychology previously, even within psychology, there's so many different disciplines within that one discipline. And it ranges from basic science through to really accessible science, which makes it so challenging because there's just not going to be equity in the media coverage."
"We do speak really different languages and we're going to have so much impact if we can cut through the issues that might be associated with that, and find really beautiful, meaningful ways to work together across different disciplines."
"Even though I am a professional staff member, I am equal to my academic colleagues and we work hand in hand. We wouldn't be able to have the same impact if we didn't work together in such a great way."
"I could not do what I do so successfully if I wasn't so close to where the action was actually happening and building those relationships. And in a way, you know, I do feel for, those wonderful colleagues that we have working more centrally. Because, it must be so much harder to be able to build that trust."
"We're at a university. We're surrounded by experts. I've loved just being able to reach out to the school of journalism or the school of government and picking their ear on ways that I can learn about writing a white paper or whatever it is. We do have those resources within the university and it's just, everyone's so time poor and that, that is a real challenge when everyone's workloads are so high. But there's so many people out there who are so excited about their work that they're really, really happy to share their expertise with you as well. "
"So we're having to seed this work with investigative journalists. We're not journalists. We shouldn't do this work ourselves. We're going to leave it to them to tell the story from their perspective. and we can supply some of the expert commentary, but we're just sort of going to leave it to them to explore. And I think that's really important as well as, figuring out when you aren't the best to follow through with the type of engagement activity that you want to do and when it is actually left best with the people who do it really well."

Tuesday Apr 09, 2024

Today's episode is a deep dive with Hanie Yee, an industry leader with over 23 years of international experience working in the commercialisation for biotech, pharmaceutical, and medical device industries. 
Right now, she's the COO of Alimentary, which is a digital health and diagnostic devices startup based in Auckland. And she's also involved in helping researchers get into the startup space. 
She's an investment committee chair of the MedTech and Surgical Committee for Return on Science. This is a national research commercialisation program in New Zealand, that leads the establishment of best practice to deliver new research to market from universities research institutes and private companies as well. On top of that and the many other amazing things she does She's a judge and mentor for velocity, which is the university of Auckland's innovation and entrepreneurship program...
Our conversation covers — 
* How commercialisation can lead to impact
* Defining your pitch and problem statement
* Talking about IP
* Finding common ground between you and your stakeholders
* The importance of authenticity
* Defining and talking about strategy
* And a whole lot more...
Enjoy, and stay tuned for next week's episode. We'll be releasing weekly for the first 12 episodes, and then switching to every other week to give us a bit more time to release some of the other exciting Amplifying Research projects we have in store for you.
Find Hanie Yee online:
Find Chris online:
Hosted and produced by Chris Pahlow
Edited by Laura Carolina Corrigan
Consulting Producers Maia Tarrell and Michelle Joy
"So if you start with current state, then the future or ideal state, the gap, and how you address that, and the uniqueness on your value proposition, then you've got a pitch, and you can take the audience with you... If you start with, look at what I've come up with, you haven't calibrated the room. You have no idea what people know or don't know or assume. Whereas if you set the scene by creating a calibration of, this is where we are today,  this is where everyone believes we should be, therefore here is the problem, and I'm going to articulate it well to you..."
"The chances are that if they're not doing it, they may have a really good reason. So you have to be sensitive towards that, right? So as a big company, if they don't have a product in X, but they have covered everything behind and everything after, then there may be a very good reason for that. A lot of the time it comes back to IP patents or whatever that may be that you are not aware of. But having that conversation and acknowledging and showing them that you have gone deep and looked at their portfolio with interest, with curiosity, actually signals that you care."
"Most companies, don't like to be threatened, but love people's interest in what they're doing. So it, it has to be come, it has to come across with an element of curiosity and interest like a problem solving, mindset, rather than, ha, gotcha."
"If you don't know about IP, you just have a really good solution or a service or an offering... Do speak to someone who understands it and you trust before going and speaking to that industry partner. Be it through a tech transfer office, be it through an IP firm, legal firm. Get some advice before you go and speak to them. Because that would be the first question that I would ask as someone in the industry from someone who comes and says, Hey, I've got something to talk to you. The first question I'll ask is, where is your IP at?"
"It really depends on who you're speaking with, and where their interests lay. What's that Venn diagram look like, right?  So you want to achieve these things. They want to achieve these other things. What's that overlap looks like?"
"The corporate VC, or a company, or an industry partner, would want something that grows with them. It has to fit their strategy. So you have to modify your pitch, your offering, something that takes that trajectory into the future... Versus if you're talking to a standard VC and they just want to fund this, but then they want to get their return in X amount of time, you need to show how that could happen if they were to invest in you... If you're saying technology, for example, works for surgeons and also for physicians. When you're talking to the surgeons, you have to talk in the context of hospital procurement systems, et cetera. If you're talking to the physicians, talk to them in the context of what happens in their day to day.  Understand who your audience is, where their problems are, where does that come from... And again, going back to the Venn diagram, where does that overlap? with what you want to achieve... And if you have more than one in the room, the Venn Diagram gets more circles. And that area might become smaller, and you need to emphasise exactly where that sweet spot is, that everybody wins. And make sure you come back to that and repeat that. People will hold information that they hear more than once... Start with it, end with it, and make sure you emphasise it a few times in the middle."
"If it doesn't change the bottom line, does it matter? There's been a lot of presentation I've seen that they said, Oh, it changes it significantly. Great. But does it matter to the doctor or the treating physician? Does it matter to whoever is at the end of this, the customer?"
"I had someone who was a very effective, salesperson, I would say, and they did beautiful pitches, but they never sold anything. They always asked the room to give them the top three reasons they think this,  technology would fail. That was their opening line. It was beautiful. Because you get everyone's biases out really quickly, then you know what you're dealing with."
"One of the things I'm going to go back to is be authentic. If you are pitching anybody or anything, be yourself, because the first thing you're selling is trust. The minute the authenticity is not there, the rest doesn't matter because it's very obvious. Most audiences pick on that very, very quickly, consciously or subconsciously and the rest goes away."
"Co-founders, there's a lot of research done on this, that when the times get tough, the ones that have co-founders have really weathered those a lot better than people who have been on their own or have, didn't have someone to share the load with."

Tuesday Apr 02, 2024

Today's episode is a deep dive with science journalist Jacinta Bowler.
Jacinta has well over 1,000 articles published for outlets like the ABC, SBS Science, Cosmos, the SMH, and Science Alert... And they've also been published in Best Australian Science Writing in 2021 and 2022.
Our conversation covers — 
* Preparing for your interview
* Building an ongoing relationship with journalists
* Mitigating risks
* Writing about your work for a general audience
* How to approach different mediums
* And a whole lot more...
Enjoy, and stay tuned for next week's episode. We'll be releasing weekly for the first 12 episodes, and then switching to every other week to give us a bit more time to release some of the other exciting Amplifying Research projects we have in store for you.
Find Jacinta Bowler online:
Best Australian Science Writing 2023 
Best Australian Science Writing 2022 
Find Chris online:
Resources mentioned:
Adrian Smith (the "bug guy") 
Hosted and produced by Chris Pahlow
Edited by Laura Carolina Corrigan
Consulting Producers Maia Tarrell and Michelle Joy
"So for me it's responding quickly. So if I send you an email in the morning, respond as soon as possible, as soon as you can, and tell me whether you can talk to me today or you can send me some responses."
"So in journalism we talk about the smart questions, where you ask questions that make you seem like you are really knowledgeable to the scientist,  and that's fine. Except the person who you are writing this article for hasn't read the paper, hasn't talked to the scientist, and so needs it to be much more simple than what I'd be able to get. So, although I've read the paper, although I probably understand this in more capacity than most people, I still need you to answer me in really simple ways because that's what the best quote's gonna be."
"You need to have descriptive language...  So maybe you tell a story about how the person who discovered citrate fungus, for example, was walking through the forest and then was seeing these frogs upturned in the riverbed, and they knew that upturned frogs meant that they'd gotten the disease. So you are trying to tell a story in the same way as you would a fiction story. You've got your intro, your middle, and your end. And throughout that you're keeping the reader interested with these interesting characters and these like descriptive languages of place. And that's what you would do  for these like longer features where science writing really comes to the fore..."
"It's similar to maths. Everyone thinks that they can't do maths, they don't have a brain for maths. Like you don't have a brain for writing in this way. I don't think that's true. I think really it is, you have to work on it. You have to get better at it. But most people can tell a pretty good story. They can probably write a pretty good story too."
"I think a lot of people in science just assume that you should use the jargon because that's what people have used before. But we actually did a study looking at lawyer speak, so the idea of why lawyers have this ridiculous form of writing that they do. And turns out lawyers don't like it. No one knows why they use it. It doesn't make any sense and it's really hard for anyone else to read. And so then it's like, okay, well let's get rid of that then." 
"So firstly, the thing you wanna focus on is what do you like doing? Are you a person that listens to podcasts all the time? Do you like the radio? Do you like watching tiktoks? Are you more of a Vox-style, longer video guy? Think about what you really enjoy listening to or consuming. And that is probably where you wanna start."

Tuesday Mar 26, 2024

Today's episode is a deep dive with comedian, science communicator, and storyteller, Alanta Colley.
Alanta has translated her background working in international public health into a series of incredible comedy shows, including "Trick or Treatment" debuting at the 2024 Melbourne International Comedy Festival (
She also hosts workshops on science communication and storytelling, and our conversation covers — 
* Putting the researcher back into the story
* The power of failure as a communication tool
* The importance of listening and asking questions
* Iterating your message as you get feedback
* And a whole lot more...
Enjoy, and stay tuned for next week's episode with ...Woodman on engaging on behalf of your field. We'll be releasing weekly for the first 12 episodes, and then switching to every other week to give us a bit more time to release some of the other exciting Amplifying Research projects we have in store for you.
Get tickets for Alanta's show "Trick or Treatment:
Find Alanta online: 
Find Chris online:
"It was very clear to me that... If it wasn't a community led, community requested, community informed process, you would not achieve a great deal..."
"I can't stress enough the importance of failure as a communication tool. Personal failure... Research failure... Nothing communicates science better than when science goes horribly wrong."
"If you genuinely adopt a strengths based approach, you listen before you do science communication. You hear what people know already. You find out what people are interested in knowing and you tailor your science communication to, I guess you call it an aspirations model. Like, what science are you interested in? How is it going to be relevant to you? Where are the gaps? How can you build on the strengths and the knowledge that's already there.
"I think that's the beauty of storytelling in science communication, that you get to insert yourself in the story, and when I do science communication workshops, one of the first exercises I get people to do is called the origin story. Like, how did you end up here? Why are you in this room? When did this start to matter to you? And, I think the traditional methods of communicating research have, particularly in the science space, have been about extracting yourself out of it. We know the scientific process is all about mechanisms of almost removing the human individual and all their biases and their perceptions and their anticipations from the process. But when you communicate science, we all innately understand stories. We all relate to failure. We all relate to motivations and that origin story. That's how you get people in. That's how you turn the important information that you have to share with an audience into something palatable and engaging and meaningful to another human being."
"So context is everything when it comes to science, isn't it? Because a graph, if you don't have the background of all of the information relating to that data it means absolutely nothing to you... So it is your job as a science communicator to add in that context to explain why this matters to you... So that bit often gets missed... I think particularly in the university system, you start off in your very discreet, very specific cohort of people studying exactly the same science area that you're studying. And most of us will end up in a multidisciplinary team. So even speaking to our colleague will require a different set of tools and words and jargon than it will, you know, a person in a different team in your organisation to the funding body to a government organisation, hoping to fund you or use your research to write important legislation to the man on the street who is impacted by that research... So you need a lot of different tools in your toolkit as a science communicator... And to be very agile and responsive to the needs and the interests of the person that you're talking to."
"In comedy we talk about high status and low status... You've got the low status person who's the clown who falls over and makes mistakes and is constantly throwing whatever prescribed program there is off the rails. Everyone loves the low status character. Part of what everyone is revolting against is the high status character. There is class in science. There's a history of colonisation there. Our science is predicated on hierarchy. It's predicated on, educated versus non educated. It's come out of Royal societies. And a huge tool for science communication is actually to break down those barriers."
"I think the number one rule everyone always says in science communication is know your audience. But the conversation often stops there. Knowing your audience doesn't mean sitting down and just having a think about your audience and projecting an image onto your audience. Knowing your audience can be asking your audience what they want and what they need and what would be helpful and useful."

Tuesday Mar 19, 2024

Today's episode is a deep dive with Prof Dan Woodman.
Dan is a TR Ashworth Professor of Sociology in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne. He founded Social Sciences Week, and has been the president the Council for Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences in Australia.
Dan spoke about representing not only your own research but your entire field when conducting comms and engagement activities.
Our conversation covers — 
* What it's like conducting comms and engagement with peak bodies
* Aligning multiple voices around a north star, and doing so in a way that allows for nuance and a diversity of perspectives
* The benefits of making engagement a core part of what you do
* As well as plenty of tips about conducting comms and engagement — including dealing with radio interviews, what to do when things go wrong, using your teaching as a practice ground for public engagement, and a whole lot more...
Enjoy, and stay tuned for next week's episode with science journalist Jacinta Bowler. We'll be releasing weekly for the first 12 episodes, and then switching to every other week to give us a bit more time to release some of the other exciting Amplifying Research projects we have in store for you.
Find Prof Dan Woodman online: 
Find Chris online:
(00:00:00) Opening quote
(00:00:22) Intro
(00:02:16) Engagement at the core of what you do -- to help your own career, as well as to help your colleagues and the field as a whole
(00:12:26) Challenges with media engagement
(00:22:27) Public facing work outside of the University
(00:24:17) Building your network through public engagement
(00:24:41) Finding the fun in an interview
(00:27:06) Teaching as practice for engagement
(00:32:06) Promoting your discipline as a whole
(00:37:20) Responding quickly to opportunities
(00:40:49) Focusing multiple voices around a north star, and tailoring your key messages to different audiences
(00:51:07) Building capacity for engagement 
(00:54:05) Getting people invested in the cause
(00:58:18) Should research orgs invest in comms and engagement?
(01:00:04) Summary
(01:03:45) Outro
"Engagement in some ways for me has been the core part of my, my job for the last few years."
"I've shifted towards focusing on how I can create opportunities for others in my own discipline, but also across the social sciences and even more broadly across the humanities, arts and social sciences. How we can build avenues to more opportunities for people to do engagement work, get their research out to different audiences. Because for me, that's the foundation for our success as a university sector. It's how we make sure that there's support for the research we do"
"And I think because I enjoyed it and it also went well, producers often come back to you if you've done a good job and there's this balance you have to find because producers are after a talent in someone that can tell a few jokes and some anecdotes, and they often will prioritise more that than you being the best person to talk about that topic. So you've got a balance between taking up the opportunities you're given and occasionally knowing when to say no or throw it to a colleague."
"And as time goes on, I think I got better at throwing more opportunities to my colleagues and thinking about, okay, I I've moved up through the ranks, doing this engagement has been great fun but it's also helped me, like, the other thing to add is it helped me with my research. When you write grants, you have this...  Really, really popping first paragraph that you need to write, whether that's for the ARC or for a non  ARC Australian Research Council funder.  Being able to say why your work matters in a really concrete, non jargonistic way is just a crucial research skill.  Talking to journalists, going on the radio, writing op-eds,  all help you build those skills."
"To say in a clear way, in a way that breaks it down and makes it less into a kind of academic adversarial language, but look, this is how me, my field, the way I work, my paradigm in sociology looks at the world is for these reasons, but, uh, if you get a psychologist in, they're going to pick out some different things that matter as well, being able to share that in an engaging way with other audiences is just wonderful for like making a contribution to the world and debates, but also again, for that work of pinning down in plain language, why what you do matters for your next promotion application or for that next grant application is really great, great skill to hone."
"So your university and your school and faculty should be giving you training, but also recognising those challenges and rewarding you for doing that work and protecting you where they can."
"[If there isn't already training and support available in your org] yes, do it yourself, but if you can ask your research director of your team or the head of school, if they're not offering it across the board, whether they might support you and get something started, show, show how it works and what the value can be."
"I encourage individuals, but also schools or research centers or faculties to think about how engagement work they do might build into something bigger, you know, articulate with international days of significance for that topic or, or join in with a national events like social sciences week or or, um, national science week and these kinds of things... Because,  not only does it really help you in the end, because you're part of a different program. You can put the logo for this big national event on, you, you, you can have an avenue to some different audiences. It's also your way as a, as a part of this sector, this knowledge sector, to also through doing it with others, contribute collectively as well to showing the strength, diversity and importance of, of the work we do."
"I know some of my international and national connections and actual academic collaborations have come through people who first were exposed to my work, not through stumbling across the journal article, but through the newspaper article in their national newspaper or hearing me on, on the radio."
"As it went on and I became a regular, I'd sketch out a few notes, but have some key points I wanted to make, but leave plenty of space to just riff and you'll be working with a professional who will pick up on things that they think are interesting, are going to work for their listeners and push you further."
"If you're an academic, you've almost certainly done a lot of engagement of breaking down ideas and bringing people along with you, if you've done any teaching from tutoring to lecturing, you know, particularly at first year or second year, you're not saying it as you would in your journal article or your academic book. And you'll have certain anecdotes, ways to connect to people."
"That [radio] program had me on semi regularly for the next five years. And it was, I think bringing in those things I'd known had worked through my teaching to break it down in terms of stories or anecdotes."
"When the presenter starts smiling back at you or even laughs on the line and you know that, okay, I can relax a bit, this is going well and it makes it more fun for you as well and when you've done it a few times, then, you know, you'll probably still get some of those healthy nerves come in, but you know that you've done it before and you'll be able to do it again."
"It was thinking about what do we really need to do in the social sciences? And that was, get better in engagement. What are we already doing? How do we build on what we're doing? So it's not more work for people, but by doing it collectively, we actually make it easier and get a bit more out of it."
"You want to build up your skills to be ready for it and ask some questions of the producer and also, you know, say no when you really do have that feeling in your gut, like, I don't like the way this is likely going to be framed."
"If you're going on live radio, you can't do this, but if you talk to a journalist, you can ask them to send through what they're going to use and say, look, I'll talk to you as long as you send through the quotes and I get a look. Some journalists won't ask you back if you do that because they don't want to deal with the time. But if you're worried or you would like to see, most journalists will say, yeah, no problem. "
"Our catchphrase, our line, is "what makes us human" and, we could kind of riff around that... Including people who want to absolutely use the humanities to put humans back in their place in the grand scheme of the environments and other animals. But that was something we could hold on to and say that what we bring is actually a diversity of ways of rigorously knowing about what makes us human and different lenses of looking at that. And, you know, when you're in these roles, you don't need to write the dictionary of the humanities, arts and social sciences over 200,000 entries or, or, or a tome of a thousand pages about what holds it all together. Few people do that work, good for them, but you need something that can be a bit of a rally, rallying cry, or at least people are happy to sign off when you make a collective, um, submission to government about what you do."
"So what I try to do is tell people about the pragmatic aims we have at this time and frame it in that way. It's like, this is not that other important work we might do about really teasing out the epistemologies of the humanities, it's about our social sciences and arts, it's about what message do we want to sign off on collectively today to make that point as strongly as we can in this practical case I've got to deal with of a current government who wants to cut funding here or whatever it is."
"Whenever you're doing work with different communities, you want to have key messages that the people have rallied behind, but, but tweak them for the different people you're talking to. That's one of the skills of doing this kind of work that gets better through practice."
"We can't do everything and there's always gonna be decisions to be made about where we invest our time and resources. But comms and engagement becomes this foundation for everything you do. If your team, your staff builds up their skills in talking to varied audiences, different communities... It's going to make them better teachers... It's going to make them better at writing research grants... It's going to make them better at doing your annual planning day as a team... Because they'll learn new skills about  understanding where different people are coming from and how to shape their message for different groups. So those key skills of engagement and comms really help with everything we do in the university."
"However the university changes in the next decade, things like being great teachers, doing good research, and then contributing to the community are going to be key pillars of whatever we do. And this engagement work, learning to improve how we communicate to different audiences and different communities is going to help us do all those things. So whatever the details of your mission for your group are, these are key skills that will help you achieve that mission."

Tuesday Mar 12, 2024

Today's episode is a deep dive with Dr Simona Carbone.
She's a co-director of the integrated neurogenic mechanisms lab in drug discovery biology at the Monash Institute of pharmaceutical sciences (MIPS). In addition to her research work, she is also the host and producer of the podcast, The Lead Candidate, a show that aims to understand what qualities and experiences make a great leader in different fields of science. 
Our conversation covers — 
* Aligning your team behind a central mission
* How to operationalise things like values and ensure they have a real tangible benefit to your organisation
* And nitty gritty tips for running effective meetings, how to have effective conversations with the people you're leading, and a whole lot more...
Enjoy, and stay tuned for next week's episode with Prof Dan Woodman on engaging on behalf of your field. We'll be releasing weekly for the first 12 episodes, and then switching to every other week to give us a bit more time to release some of the other exciting Amplifying Research projects we have in store for you.
Find Dr Simona Carbone online: 
Find Chris online:
Resources mentioned:
Dare to Lead by Brené Brown
Dare to Lead list of values 
(00:00:00) Opening quote
(00:00:26) Intro
(00:06:21) Communicating purpose and values
(00:10:20) Communicating multiple times in different ways
(00:12:38) Building alignment in academia
(00:16:13) Understanding the different communication styles of your team members
(00:24:53) The importance of being agile
(00:31:23) Setting the culture
(00:34:47) Meetings vs discussions
(00:36:18) Making meetings work for your team
(00:42:47) Vulnerability
(00:51:30) Looking after yourself as a leader
(00:54:18) Communicating up 
(01:00:53) What you'd like to see from research orgs
(01:04:33) Summary
(01:05:30) Outro
"What [great leaders in science] all have in common is generally being able to speak a clear message. Often that comes from having a really strong purpose and that helps with being able to communicate a really clear message..."
"[Mission statements] work better when its not just a token statement that's set, but it's something that is actionable either for the team to work towards or for the team to contribute to on a day to day basis."
"If you break that really big bold mission statement into smaller things that you want to achIeve... That helps to communicate what that big bold idea is to your team."
"A very important part of communication as a leader is recognising that you need to say the same thing several times. But if you're not changing the way you're saying it... It's not going to get the message across."
"Trying to understand the motivations of people will get you so much further because you become less frustrated and upset with people when that happens. And also you are then able to figure out how to help them do more and achieve what it is that they want to do."
"It's been trying to shift the focus to, okay, well rather than we need to apply for funding from X, Y, and Z because that is the expectation that is put on us by the university... What is it that we want funded? What science is it that we're really excited about? And then how do we get that funded? Flip the question. How is it that we are able to fund what it is we are excited about? And then you can design projects that fit with that central point, and then you can apply for alternative sources of funding that might be a bit different than what you were after initially, but it's going to get the stuff that you're excited about."
"One of the things that we established really early on was that we wanted an environment where everyone could speak about science. So we'll have lab meetings, people present their work weekly. And, we wanted to break down this thing of why aren't people asking questions? Why are people scared to ask questions? We want to make that environment that everyone feels like they can contribute. They can get clarity on something if they haven't understood.  And so that's been something we've worked really hard towards and we'll change things every so often if we feel like it's not working."
"Not that I don't care about being respectful, but I'm not scared by the leadership before me because I know I present something that's important. I have a point of view that is important and experience that is important. It will make them better leaders if I am able to share my experience and they are able to action that."
"People think of science communication as simply being communicating science to the general public as it's is simply just a nice thing that we're doing... But you've got to realise it's such a wonderful training opportunity for your staff as well. For me, I started off doing science communication because I was quite passionate about making people excited about science. But then I ended up gaining  all these skills on how to speak with people who are not in my area about science. Using the same methods that I was using to speak to children at primary school, but applying it in a business setting. And suddenly I become a scientist who is able to work with industry, or can communicate with people who might see my work as being commercially viable. So suddenly that becomes an economic source of funding for people within research centres that they wouldn't have necessarily have had before."
"It also means you actually understand your work far better,  um, than someone who can speak about it in a way that no one else can understand..."

Tuesday Mar 05, 2024

Today's episode is a deep dive with comedians Andy Matthews and Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall.
Andy and Alasdair host the science comedy quiz show "The Pop Test" on Radio National and inject their love of science into so much of the comedy they've produced — including their incredible live shows "Magma" and "Teleport".
Our conversation covers — 
* How jokes, playfulness, and great metaphors can help you hook your audience
* The importance of understanding and representing your audience's point of view
* Putting together a team for your comms/engagement project, and a whole lot more...
Enjoy, and stay tuned for next week's episode with Dr Simona Carbone on communicating like a leader. We'll be releasing weekly for the first 12 episodes, and then switching to every other week to give us a bit more time to release some of the other exciting Amplifying Research projects we have in store for you.
Find Andy online: 
Find Alasdair online:
Their comedy:
The Pop Test 
Two in the Think Tank podcast
Gustav & Henri — Andy's sci-fi children's book series
Find Chris online:
(00:00:00) Opening quote
(00:00:34) Intro
(00:02:44) What is The Pop Test?
(00:12:47) Metaphors
(00:17:42) Don't talk down to your audience
(00:19:04) How can researchers approach "jokes"?
(00:22:11) Representing the audience's POV
(00:27:41) Putting together a team to help you communicate
(00:32:01) Hooking your audience with jokes and "brain explosions"
(00:34:45) The importance of guiding your audience using structure
(00:37:31) Don't forget to slow down and check in with your audience
(00:40:49) Sci comms progresses at the rate of its metaphors
(00:43:09) Have fun with the science AND the communication
"There's a kind of comedy that comes from metaphors and analogies..."
"Jokes have their own structure, and facts have their own structure, and you can use one to help understand the other. Really, it's a joke, yes, but also it's just a metaphor or an analogy that helps to explain a concept. It's just an enjoyable one."
"Be alert for the little gems along the way..."
"What people understand and connect with is stories... Don't overlook the fact that you've got your own story to tell...  Because that's just as compelling for an audience. Why did you get into this? Why did you approach the things you did in the way that you did? Why wasn't it ideal? What made this the right way to tackle things? And where did you get to?"
"Don't remove the humanity from your story. Especially if you are under pressure, you might be like, right, I've just got to get out all the facts and I've got to communicate the information there. But if you want it to hit home and be something that people take away with them, don't get rid of too much of that human stuff, cause that is really what people will connect with."
"There's nothing more joyful than seeing somebody allow themselves to be the little weirdo that they are. It's like the little kid that is interested in that topic that eventually does become that expert... An expert is not as fun as the little kid who wants to be the expert. "
"People enjoy seeing somebody love something. And if you love it and you're capable of communicating to people why it's so great, you can spread that same enthusiasm for that topic."
"A lot of good science communication is disabusing people of misconceptions. And, really, comedians are misconception machines."
"It's about delivering the right pieces of information in the right order at the right time."
"If you're trying to answer somebody's question or get some information across, actually a big part of that for you as the communicator is asking questions yourself... Have you had this experience? Do you know how this happens? And have you ever noticed this? Because then, by its very nature, you're making it relatable and you're engaging them and you're not just spewing this information out"

Tuesday Feb 27, 2024

Today's episode is a deep dive with A/Prof Suzie Sheehy.
She's both an accomplished accelerator physicist and an absolutely incredible science communicator. Her TED talk, "The case for curiosity driven research" has almost 2 million views as of posting date, she's partnered with The Royal Institution to deliver lectures with hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube, and she's the published author of the book, "The matter of everything: 12 experiments that changed our world".
Our conversation covers — 
* Finding partners that can amplify your voice
* Finding your personal presenting style
* Adapting your message to different formats and mediums
* Why your comms don't need to be perfect
* Getting comfortable representing your field, and a whole lot more...
Enjoy, and stay tuned for next week's episode with comedians Andy Matthews and Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall talking about how comedy can make your research more approachable. We'll be releasing weekly for the first 12 episodes, and then switching to every other week to give us a bit more time to release some of the other exciting Amplifying Research projects we have in store for you.
Find A/Prof Suzie Sheehy online:
Some of Suzie's lectures:
Find Chris online:
Resources mentioned:
EDGE tool
(00:00:00) Opening quote
(00:00:10) Intro
(00:02:11) Building your skills over time
(00:06:15) Finding the right partners for an amplifying effect
(00:13:19) The importance of a supportive environment
(00:22:25) How effective communication can lead to collaboration
(00:26:30) What to do when you don't have that support and encouragement
(00:30:33) Your comms don't have to be perfect to generate impact
(00:34:59) Trust your gut and your personal style
(00:38:19) Storytelling
(00:46:39) Finding what works for you and giving yourself permission to be the expert
(00:50:47) Communicating in different formats and mediums
(00:58:59) Getting comfortable representing your field
(01:05:52) Wrap up and what would you like to see happen in Australia
"It sort of all snowballed from like, sort of start something, do it well and network well, and you will just find the opportunities come your way. That's more or less been my experience."
"So people get this impression that you know, you start your own YouTube channel and if it's good enough somehow it will manage to go viral and magically opportunities will land in your lap. And you do have to be a bit more strategic than that. So my main recommendation is work with professionals... Be the talent, not the producer. Cause as a researcher, you have the expertise. And as you grow your confidence with working with different forms of communication and different types of media,  you'll see the benefit from knowing that there's a team behind each piece that you do, who are going to increase the reach of that."
"Your research is fascinating to people. It's just getting it in the right format, connecting the idea with the audience, and often researchers think they have to do the whole shebang. And if you go to where the audience already is, that's half the work done for you."
"My communication has now created or helped me create and become part of collaborations that I wouldn't otherwise have become part of. It's helped me expand the problems that I can work on as a researcher."
"Authenticity is what's important. Vulnerability is okay. Your audience actually connects with you more if there's a little bit of imperfection. They don't like things that are too slick."
"What changed for me and made me into more of a storyteller is I started thinking more about the emotional journey that my audience was going on and why they should be listening to me and why they should be interested in the content that I'm taking away or that I'm trying to get them to take away."
"I never thought about writing a book until it more or less came to me as an idea from my agent, who came and literally said, have you thought about writing a book? Like that's actually how he opened it. And I really hadn't, because I I only thought I could write a popular science book once I was like a full professor. I wasn't giving myself permission to do that because I thought, Oh, there's at least 10 other people in my field who are more qualified in some scientific way, I suppose, to write that. But they're not doing it. So eventually I gave myself permission to be that person."
"I think probably the key thing between different lengths and formats is really how many key ideas you can explore in that time..."
"The other part of that I found really difficult is feeling that I had the permission to talk at that high level as a relatively junior researcher at that point in time... Feeling like, okay, well, I work in this specific bit of research, but I can't represent the entire  field of physics, genomics, sociology, whatever field it is you work on.  And it's a tension between our actual expertise that our academic colleagues recognize and who we are in the eyes of our audience."
"Don't pretend you have to know everything across the entire field.  It's okay to say that's not my specialism, but here I can hook you up with someone who does know.  And I think it's so important as well to not pretend that we know everything in science. To me, that's an old style of science communication that I feel is very outdated."
"My philosophy around communication and engagement very much does centre the human side of doing science."
"One of the things that I try and do is to be honest with where I found things challenging, where things bring up emotions... Science is supposed to be objective, but scientists aren't objective. We're human. And part of the process of doing science is how we work with that and how we reflect on that. And I've found people really love having that conversation actually."
"I would love to see specific funding streams exist for engagement."

Tuesday Feb 20, 2024

Today's episode is a deep dive with Prof Phillip Dawson. 
Phill is a co-director at the Centre for Research in Assessment and Digital Learning in Deakin. As you'll hear, Phill has made it part of his job to become a key person of influence in his field.
Our conversation covers — 
* The potential benefits of a KPI strategy — both to individual researchers and research organisations
* How to find your niche
* Creating your pitch
* The importance of publishing journal articles, other research dissemination, and a whole lot more...
Enjoy, and stay tuned for next week's episode with A/Prof Suzie Sheehy on reaching a large audience. We'll be releasing weekly for the first 12 episodes, and then switching to every other week to give us a bit more time to release some of the other exciting Amplifying Research projects we have in store for you.
Find Prof Phillip Dawson online:
Find Chris online:
Resources mentioned:
Key Person of Influence
The Problem/Gap/Hook Heuristic by Lorelei Lingard
(00:00:00) Opening quote
(00:00:18) Intro
(00:02:30) Why work to become a KPI
(00:13:06) Benefits to research organisations
(00:17:26) How to find your niche
(00:33:25) How to describe your niche
(00:43:59) Publishing journal articles
(00:48:32) Other research dissemination
(00:50:08) Episode summary
(00:52:36) Giving yourself permission to invest in this side of yourself...
(00:54:34) Outro
"I make it part of my job to be that key person of influence."
"You never understand something as well as you do when you're explaining it to someone in simple language..."
"I think the idea of a researcher that can just be able to talk to other researchers, I don't think that sort of person can exist anymore. You might be able to get a PhD by doing that, but you certainly can't hold down a job doing that anymore."
"Ultimately I do the niche that I do because it excites me... It ignites something in me that few other things in the world do... And I think part of the KPI thing is people can see that you love it. They can see this is what you live for."
"And I think as well in specializing in a research centre, you make room for other people."
"If your centre director is like, I am everything in this centre, well, how is there a role for junior academics to say, yeah, I'm gonna do something that's complimentary to the centre's mission, but here is like my piece of it. And they're not just like a lesser version of the centre director. 'Cause I think treating junior academics like they're just mini clones of the director is terrible. You wanna develop them so they've got their thing that they're the world leader on."
"The grant stuff pulls at my sort of sense of self preservation a little bit, so that's probably the hardest piece of it. But when you commit to like a three or four year grant, if you do that on something that's not in your specialisation, you are pushing that sort of specialisation point down the road by three or four years. And that's, that's a long time."
"There's an infinite amount of things you could do that are all fascinating and stimulating, but but you gotta finish that main quest. And I think too many academics don't actually get to finish their main quest."
"People think of a pitch as like, I only give people my tight five minute slide deck or something. But a pitch is to a degree sales,  and I have had the discomfort of having a lot of sales calls over the years. And one thing I've noticed is the ones that never work start off with the slide deck and at the end of like a half hour they're like, do you have any questions? The really successful ones start with questions to me, to build that rapport and the pitch has to have that. But I mean, even if we go away from sales, we go to my home domain of education, one thing we know about education is that prior knowledge and sort of people's background is the single biggest influence on their learning."
"Good educators try to connect with where people are. They ask questions, they try and understand where someone's at so they can help people build on that. And that's what your pitch needs to do. It needs to build on someone's existing schemas and understandings."

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