Training and development

How to establish a professional development programme for public engagement

Man explaining to audience

Table of contents

What you find on this page

1. Overview

How to find help in planning your training offer

2. Top tips

Some tips to get you started

3. Checklist

A checklist to assess your current provision of training and development

4. Inspire me!

A training toolkit and reflective article about lessons learned

5. Useful resources

Practical tools to help you plan your offer


Professional development and training is often seen as a key component for supporting public engagement and culture change. There are a number of challenges to providing effective training but the good news is that there is an abundance of experience to learn from, and this page provides some useful resources and examples to get started.

Top tips

 Training can take many forms

Training doesn’t always have to take the form of a workshop or training session: 1:1 guidance from a public engagement professional is also a valuable learning experience. Learning through peer-to-peer networks is also a form of training. Before you create a new training programme, think about who the training is for and what form they are most likely to respond to. Senior academics, for example, are much more likely to welcome one-to-one support on a research grant than attending a generic workshop on writing public engagement into research grants. In comparison PhD students and new PIs are more likely to be looking to upskill through training and workshops.

Be strategic in the training you provide: ask yourself, what will add value to CPD already available? Are there external training and opportunities available to point staff towards? Could you share training with other groups or institutions?

 Training to consider for all staff:

  • Why do public engagement?
  • Identifying your audience and adapting activities to suit them.
  • An overview of the different methods for public engagement.
  • An introduction to evaluation, its importance, and how to incorporate evaluation into activities.

 Potentially valuable topics for staff related to public engagement:

  • Ethical research and addressing ethical issues with public engagement.
  • Presentation skills.
  • Narrative skills and storytelling.

 Specific skills staff might seek out when conducting or planning public engagement:

  • Working with patients and communities.
  • Facilitation skills.
  • Using participatory art.
  • Building successful collaborations.
  • Working with museums.
  • Exhibition display/design.
  • Developing workshops/ hands-on activities.
  • Education and working with schools.
  • Audience behaviour management.
  • Performance skills.
  • Use of Blogging.
  • Use of Social Media.


Here is a checklist you might use to assess your current provision of training and development, and what might be missing:

Opportunities for developing PE skills through training are offered, including evaluation.

Opportunities for developing PE skills through activities are offered, to enable people to practice their skills.

Training is integrated with HR and wider CPD offers.

Public Engagement expertise is available to advise staff and students.

Peer-to-peer networks exist for staff to support each other’s PE practice.

Mentoring opportunities for PE are available to staff.

Staff and students have access to tools, guides and resources to support PE activity.

Inspire me!

Useful resources