Speaking in front of an audience is a privilege, and I start my work by asking myself a lot of questions about the people who are going to listen to me.
Speaking about what?
I can speak comfortably about topics close to my areas of research, including:
German, European and US politics of climate change: actors, conflicts, politics and policies
Political and science communication: media coverage, campaigning, engagement and mobilisation
Science, society and politics: expert knowledge, public dialog, philosophy and critique
Why are they going to be there? What do they care about? How can I empower them to drive the change they want to make happen? What do they want and need to know and understand to do so?
I also take it as an occasion to review my knowledge and do some more research. As a scientist, I spend a lot of time on rather narrowly defined projects. Taking time to zoom out and think broadly is both a luxury and a necessity — after all, my role is to explain large societal phenomena to a variety of audiences.
Most of my presentations take place in front of students and academic colleagues and I cherish the opportunity to engage with people outside that world. I do this in the form of workshops, interactive presentations, but also sit-back-and-listen talks.