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Storytelling for Scientists, 2019-2020 - *Canceled because of the Corona-virus*


Semester 2, 2019-2020

Type of course

Methodological and Practical Courses


May 18, 2020


Utrecht University, Androclus c021


1 day

Maximum number of participants



0.5 EC will be appointed for participation in the complete course


Laurens van Gestel (UU), Stephanie Helfferich (UU), Madelijn Strick (UU).


Reading a scientific paper is sometimes boring. We may struggle to pay attention to a lecture or research talk, even when the topic is interesting and relevant. These are not only problems of content but also of form: the structure of the presentation may not be optimal. In this course, you will learn to structure and present your research in an engaging way.

Research suggests that most audiences find stories easier to comprehend and more engaging than traditional logical-scientific communication. The typical cause-and-effect structure of stories can keep us interested and excited for a long time, for example when we read a novel or watch a film. Our research may not have protagonists, dramatic plot twists and magic, but we can learn how to create tension, curiosity, and surprise in our research articles and presentations. 

In this course, you will learn how to communicate your research effectively using storytelling techniques. The focus will be on the written and spoken forms of communication. The techniques can be applied to scientific as well as popular forms of communication, such as research papers, conference talks, lectures, grant applications, media performances, popular science books, and blogs.

In the morning session, we will focus on writing. Students will learn about the basic ingredients of great stories which are used by successful writers and other storytellers. They learn how to structure a text in order to grab attention, build suspense and raise curiosity in readers. Then they will apply this knowledge to their own project by using these ingredients to write an engaging text about their own research. They will receive extensive feedback from the teachers and from peers.

In the afternoon, the focus will lie on spoken communication with an audience. In addition to practicing with the skill of storytelling, students will learn about theater skills such as voice intonation, gestures, and timing. Theory will be discussed and practical tips will be given. Students will present their research in an engaging way and will receive feedback on their presentation.

We collaborate with Stephanie Helfferich (project manager from the Utrecht University Public Engagement Program) in developing and finetuning the contents of this course. 

To be announced.