Technically Speaking at SET squared


SETsquared is a collaboration between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey.  They work with extraordinarily bright people who are at the forefront of research and innovation.  SETsquared runs the highly-regarded “Research to Innovator Programme” which provides the skills and knowledge to convert innovative ideas into a commercial reality.

Networking and communications skills are essential in this process. Without a strong network of people who can advise them and advocate the value of their research, chances of success are slim. And without the skills to enable others to understand their work and to communicate the value of their research on their behalf, the innovators will struggle to turn their ideas into a commercial reality.

The morning session focused on “The secrets of successful networking for researchers”.  This was followed by “Technically Speaking: How to convey complex information”. When work is complex and attention spans are short, being able to articulate the value of research puts innovators at a distinct advantage.


Their challenges were many in number, some of which included:

  • I can never remember names and find active listening difficult
  • It’s hard to approach people for the first time and I don’t really like small talk
  • I feel superficial and uncomfortable with this idea of using people
  • I don’t know how to approach people I need to speak to
  • I feel really anxious when I’m around a lot of people I don’t know and this results in physical side effects such as IBS/headaches/speech and thought impediments
  • Dealing with situations of not understanding something that somebody has said and how to ask for further explanation without looking stupid
  • I don’t know how to build bridges and connections
  • I don’t know how discrete or subtle one must be to change a normal conversation into a potential future network connection
  • I find making my research sound ground breaking the hardest thing
  • I don’t know how to express my research in a way that will be useful to someone else
  • I worry that people aren’t interested in what I have to say or will not want to understand my technical explanation.  This is especially relevant for talking with non scientists who tend to give up very quickly and say they can’t understand before I’ve had a chance to explain.

The results

At the end of the Researcher to Innovator programme, these workshops received the highest feedback.

80% of the group rated the session 10/10.  Some of the comments included:

  • “A reluctant networker has been moved, inspired and taught to see networking in a completely new light.”
  • “Genuinely found that really helpful.”
  • “Excellent examples, the balance between group exercises and being talked at was very good.”
  • How to talk about my research in a compelling way was very helpful.  Specifically how to create my headline, metaphor and put my work into context.
  • Was very interactive and very good thank you
  • The breakdown of the 7 principles to convey complex information
Set Squared Bristol Logo

You may also like:

Workshop: Networking for new business
Workshop: How to fast track trust
Blog: For the reluctant networker


“Having been a reluctant networker all my professional life, I just wish I had met Melissa when I was starting out on my entrepreneurial journey. The sessions she designed and delivered for the SETsquared programme; Researcher to Innovator, were well matched to the participant’s needs. By grounding the learning in authentic experiences and with down to earth practical help, everybody left with tools and techniques to ensure those first few forays into networking will be less fraught and more profitable…

Melissa is a very engaging speaker and confident presenter. She doesn’t just talk the talk, she walks the walk and you can see her using all of her skills when she meets you and makes you feel at ease. I have no hesitation recommending Melissa for sessions on networking.”

Dr Simon Brown – Enterprise Education and Employability Consultant, Head of Enterprise Development – NCEE, Visiting Professor & Entrepreneur in Residence – Plymouth University, Fellow of Enterprise Educators UK

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