Guide: Easy Ways to Get Started

Skills & knowledge

Getting started with public engagement can feel a bit of a challenge. However there is lots of help and advice only a click away. Here are our top ten suggestions.



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. Check out our method for participating in a PE scheme.

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Get talking

It always helps to talk to someone who has engaged with the public themselves. There are bound to be people in your institution who could help. Here are some of the teams you might have: Beacon; Public Engagement; Outreach; Widening Participation; Knowledge Transfer; Marketing and Communication; Volunteering. Failing that - check out our People pages for someone who might be able to help.


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 HEI staff and students to develop their public engagement work.  Psci-Comm offers an opportunity to engage with science engagers. There may also be local networks.

Remember, whilst it can feel dauting to post up a comment or question - most people will be only too glad to help. Failing that you can always check out the archive to see what has been discussed before.


Be inspired

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


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?


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 Planning an Activity Guide for more information.


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. However, it's great if you can put your newfound skills into action as soon as you can. So try to make sure you have an opportunity to engage with the public either as part of the training, or soon afterwards.


Become a Public Engagement Ambassador

The NCCPE run the Public Engagement Ambassadors' Scheme 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.


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.  


Other resources

This website is a growing set of resources to support people engaging with the public. Content includes:

Guides: These introduce lots of relevant topics like understanding audiences; marketing; working with science centres etc

Methods: Descriptions of different ways to engage with the public, our methods include Engaging Presentations; Podcasting; Engaging the public as researchers.

Funding and Training: Opportunities that you can apply for


What next

We hope these top ten tips have whetted your appetite to engage with the public. If you have a specific question - or would like to suggest other content for the website - then please contact us. We would love to help.

Other resources

Elsewhere on this site you can find:

Why public engagement matters

Individuals viewpoints as to why public engagement matters to HEIs

Our manifesto for public engagement - which we are encouraging every HEI to sign to show their commitment to supporting public engagement effectively

How to engage with the public resource section

How we can help