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So you want to do a Public Lecture Series?
A public lecture series can be a great way to showcase your research and excite the public about physics. As with a single lecture, the same fundamentals apply: Any public lecture that relates to a timely topic, one that is in the news a lot, can draw many people and create “buzz” about you, your department, and physics in general and its role in society. An important thing to remember about public lectures is that they are just that: lectures for the public. This means that you are not speaking before your colleagues who are physicists themselves. You are speaking in front of an audience that may not have much education or background in the subject you are presenting on. But they are eager to learn. You don’t need to talk down to them, but you may need to explain, using simple words and examples/metaphors, the basics of the subject of your speech. Also, keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to give a lecture about your specific research. Rather, it can be about another topic, perhaps an exciting topic that is in the news right now (such as the Large Hadron Collider).
The key thing with public lecture series is that it often helps if you devise a theme for the series. A catchy title for the series, as well as individual lecture titles that relate to the overall theme, will help draw in the crowds.
But ultimately, what will really make your series shine is the combination of exciting topics with speakers who can deliver the topics in an exciting, public-accessible way. So you will need to recruit colleagues to speak and you should rehearse with them before hand to ensure they are ready to address lay audiences in a powerful and enthusiastic manner.
One more point of advice: don’t be hesitant to invite colleagues from other departments or even other universities/organizations to participate in the lecture series. They can add value that will only bolster the public’s excitement about physics and science in general.
For advice, ideas and success stories, contact an expert.