Research storytelling: a beginner’s guide – a workshop at POLLEN20

This interactive workshop takes place on 22 September at 12.30-3.30pm UK time (BST).  This event is hosted externally, using Zoom. You must register in advance to receive the Zoom link: Register for this event

About the workshop

Stories are the backbone of literature, film-making, politics, media, and sports, as well as our own lives. Through storytelling, we can make sense of both our own and others’ lives as well as the world at large. Equally, stories can serve as powerful tools in research communication to non-academic audiences. So, what happens when research and storytelling mix?

In the run-up to the 2019 ESRC Festival of Social Sciences, a group of researchers interested in political ecology at the University of Sheffield worked with professional storyteller Tim Ralphs towards a collective performance showcasing their fieldwork and research in the form of stories. Through coaching and peer support, the researchers learned to craft their experiences and reflections into diverse 10-minute stories. The process involved identifying viable storylines and shaping them into story arcs, but also learning how to pitch them to a non-expert audience suitably in terms of length, focus and presentation. It was a collaborative process among researchers working in different countries and continents on diverse topics including the downsides of afforestation, water management or conservation. However, the engagement proved instructive and insightful for all far beyond communicating findings in a creative, accessible manner. The storytelling skills acquired were helpful in teaching, public engagement and impact, while offering researchers a chance to get to know each other’s work better.

Our capacity-building workshop at #Pollen20, kindly supported by the CONVIVA – convivial conservation research project, aims to share storytelling skills, offer reflections and encourage participants to explore telling their own research stories going forward. We will start with an interactive introduction to research storytelling to help attendees reflect on how they could use storytelling in their own work. We will share stories from the showcase, followed by some reflections from the Sheffield storytellers on being part of the project. Participants will have opportunities to ask questions throughout.

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