Authentic Storytelling in Research: A Bespoke Workshop

Áine Gallagher’s teaching style offers a fresh and original approach for public engagement.

Bright Club Ireland

Workshop Overview

In this introductory bespoke training workshop, participants will gain knowledge in how to communicate confidently and effectively with the public. The core aims focus on how to be yourself and how to use honesty and truth as a strength when communicating.

Workshop Description

Authentic storytelling is the art of being your honest self, admitting what you like, what you fear, what you’re good at or even what you struggle with. The comedian Maria Bamford says, “my friends are always telling me how easy it is to cook.” She follows this with an astute observation “but not any easier than not cooking”. Shock horror, she’s telling us that she doesn’t cook. Not only that, she doesn’t even intend to learn! With this simple example she is telling us unashamedly about who she is. This is the fundamental basis of authentic storytelling.

This fun, interactive two-hour training session explores how authentic storytelling can be used as a tool for public engagement. Participants are encouraged to explore the honest stories that make them who they are and gain confidence sharing these stories. Having the space to share our human stories can help to build self-confidence and sense of identity, while simultaneously breaking down the self-perceived and public illusion that scientists have to be perfect. These are the stories that we as a public can relate to. When Maria Bamford tells us that she does not cook, she is also telling us that she is not a perfect human. This honesty and vulnerability help an audience relate to the speaker, as they identify with what they are saying.

When people identify with us, it creates connection, builds trust and fosters a space where people are more engaged with what we are sharing. During this workshop, participants will explore how being authentic can create connection with the public. This can awaken the public’s interest as they come to feel that they too can share in the stories of our scientific work.

As the stereotypical physicist I find public speaking really nerve wrecking. This course gave me so much confidence and helped me to find my own way to tell my story.

American Physical Society Participant

Workshop Outcomes

Following this two-hour introductory workshop, participants will:

  • Understand the concept of authentic storytelling and its core components: honesty, vulnerability and being yourself without shame
  • Understand the benefits of authentic storytelling in research: engagement, trust, personal confidence and positive depiction of scientists in all their diversity
  • Have started to explore their own authentic stories and find their natural voice and style through practice exercises
  • Have gained confidence in using their own unique voice when communicating publicly

Facilitator Bio

Áine Gallagher is a professional comedian, storyteller and expert in communication training. She has a research background in social science and health promotion, with specific expertise in participatory research. She works as an independent training consultant with organisations such as Bright Club Ireland and Berlin Stand Up School, in addition to other third level education bodies. Her passion is based on the use of authentic storytelling and the power of sharing our honest stories to build confidence, engage with others and promote well-being.

The focus on authenticity provided a novel and fresh perspective on public engagement for our participants, who never would have considered the strength of bringing vulnerability and emotion to their communication as a method for engagement.

Oluchi Porter Athena SWAN Project Officer, RCSI

For inquiries or to book a workshop contact Áine on [email protected]