Taking the plunge into public engagement can be a bit like joining a party in a new neighbourhood. Hold back, hug the wall, and avoid eye contact and your evening will be wasted. Introduce yourself graciously, listen to the people you are talking with, relax into the event, and soon you’ll be having conversations you never expected. In short, you’ll get back what you put in.
Why do it at all, though? Talk to scientists who have done it and the motives, and the benefits they saw, vary. Professor Geraint Rees of UCL’s Institute of Neuroscience, simply sees it as a natural thing to do. “I’m a great believer that science doesn’t exist unless it is communicated. Engaging with the public is an extension of normal scholarly activity.”
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