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We help universities engage with the public

Getting started

Easy ways to get started

If you are new to public engagement just getting started can feel a bit of a challenge.  We believe that its important to start somewhere, and perhaps one of the first things you should know is that you are not alone!  There is lots of help and advice only a click, phone call or a corridor away. 

Here are our top ten suggestions to get you started.

1. Join a national scheme

Rather than developing your own activity – why not join in an existing scheme? Lots of organisations run schemes to support people to engage with the public.

2. Get talking

It always helps to talk to someone who has engaged with the public themselves. There are bound to be people in your organisation who could help. Here are some of the teams you might have: Public Engagement; Outreach; Widening Participation; Knowledge Transfer; Marketing and Communication; Volunteering.

3. Join a network

Lots of online mailing lists exist to encourage people to discuss and share public engagement experiences. The NCCPE Public Engagement Network supports higher education staff and students to develop their public engagement work, whilst Psci-Comm offers an opportunity to engage with science engagers.

4. Be inspired

Check out our case studies to find out about how others have been engaging with the public.

5. Start small

There are lots of ways to get involved and develop your experiences and skills. Your university may already run open days and would be only too delighted if you volunteered to help. Also you don't have to start with face to face engagement. Why not offer to write something for your department's website?

6. Try our four step plan

If you are ready to plan your engagement activity these four steps might help you on your way:

  1. Purpose: Why do you want to engage with the public?
  2. Audience: Who do you want to engage with - and why would they be interested in engaging with you?
  3. Activity: What do you plan to do?
  4. Evaluation: How will you know if your activity will be successful

Read out ‘Plan it’ section for more information.

7. Train and do

Your university may well run training to help people develop their public engagement skills. There are also national training schemes on offer, or take a look at the training we are currently offering.

8. Become a Public Engagement Ambassador

The NCCPE run the Public Engagement Ambassador Scheme (PEAs) to support people who want develop their skills; act as local engagement catalysts; network with others. PEAs can apply for funding to attend events or conferences to develop their own skills and attend PEAs networking events.

9. Listen up

There has been a tradition of university staff setting themselves up as the expert and the audience as the recipients of this expert knowledge. However, effective engagement is not framed this way. More important than being able to talk is being able to listen. 

10. Other resources

This website is a growing set of resources to support people engaging with the public. Take a look at our Resources, Funding and Training sections for more information.