Key message writing
Arguably the most important part of communication, be it via writing or presentation, is identifying the key message. While this may be obvious, it is striking how frequently the key message is not well defined. To make this clear to the participants we start with the activity “Pass the Message” as an effective icebreaker that is filmed and reviewed. Here, loss of information and the major issues of ineffective communications are impressively visualized. Even though we scientists believe that we are capable of communicating effectively, this hands-on experience of the participants shows how fast information can be lost or even falsified.
With this experience in mind, the participants work on their central messages on a peer-to-peer basis. This includes producing an effective title and abstract. As a homework, they will think about an outline which they again explain to their neighbor who will judge whether the storyline is consistent and without gaps. In addition, we will optimize the flow of text using examples from participants. This includes wording, short sentences, vocabulary and making the text as close to verbal communication as possible.
We will interactively optimize visualization of data of participants. This discussion will be initiated by a brief lecture on how much impact the proper presentation of numbers has on our peers: processing of numbers, types of graphs, arrangement of sample order, use of colours, visualization of standard deviation are key in conveying the message hidden in our data: unfortunately, the data does not speak for itself. This will lead into a discussion of examples of sets of data from participants, whose ideal presentation will be discussed in the plenary under our moderation.
In order to get grant funding, applicants have to convince reviewers that they are able to plan and run the project. This involves key elements of project management: setting SMART goals, identifying strengths, weaknesses, threats and outlining opportunities (SWOT), identifying stakeholders (RACI matrix), planning a timeline (GANTT chart) with workpackages, tasks, interdependencies, milestones and deliverables und ultimately budgeting (forward and backward planning, accounting for staff, consumables, investments and overheads). After theoretical workup, participants will implement their knowledge into real-science interdisciplinary projects they develop.
At the end of the course, the participants will dispose of a personal toolbox that will allow them to communicate efficiently as scientists and write successful grants, skills that are key to success!
A detailed programme can be found here