In this Engagement Matters post Sheena continues to share her top tops on the logistics of delivering table top science activities at public facing events.
I recently wrote about how to set up and prepare for delivering a table top activity at a science festival or similar event. The next set of tips are based around FAQs I have had over the years about the practicalities of delivering table top activities. If you are writing your own briefs for researchers delivering events, as a starting point you might find include this set of FAQs:
What do I wear?
Check the dress code – often it’s casual but you may need to wear branded t-shirts advertising the institution or activity. However, there are occasions where you will do a more corporate event that will require more formal dress code so do check. If the event is outdoors then consider bringing sunscreen, some layers and waterproofs! Do wear comfortable shoes as you will be on your feet the whole day.
Is it OK to leave things in my space while I’m not there?
Festivals are often very busy and they cannot provide security to cover your possessions so it’s better to take any valuables or personal objects with you. Ideally bring as little as possible with you to an event as storage space on a stand will usually be limited.
Food and drink
Whilst there will be opportunities to have a break and you can’t necessarily be snacking on the stand, it can be a good idea to bring some mints or chewing gum as your mouth can get very dry form talking a lot. You may also want a bottle of water on hand! I often bring some biscuits or small chocolates for a quick sugar lift to keep energy up.
Take regular breaks
The people in charge of the stand will usually factor breaks in but if you need a break, are thirsty/hungry or need the toilet let them know. It can be very tiring talking and being on your feet for extended amounts of time.
If you don’t know something, ask! There will usually be someone on the stall who will know the answer or if not then take down the person’s details and say you will get back to them with an answer in due course.
You can be asked anything!
Be prepared to be asked by visitors where the toilets are, where you can get a coffee, where to eat etc. Be prepared to talk to people more generally about careers in science/technology/your field of study too! Avoid engaging in too much conversation with your colleagues during the event- you are there to talk to the public!
Your feedback is really important in the team debrief at the end of the day as it will help tweak the activity and discuss how they will make any necessary changes for the following day. If people have made particularly pertinent comments do jot them down as they may be helpful for the activity evaluation. If the event is being evaluated then please encourage participants to complete the evaluation.
Look enthusiastic and just enjoy it! Sharing your passion with research and hearing about the public’s interest in this and having them share their experiences is a marvellous opportunity and a real privilege.
Dr Sheena Cruickshank, Academic Lead for Public Engagement, The University of Manchester
Twitter: @UoMEngage | @sheencr | #EngageMatters