One of the gripes many people have with their PhD is that they think no one else is interested in it (and therefore the PhD is a pointless waste of time) and/or they think/know that no one else has a clue/understands what they are spending 3+ years doing. As part of my mini ‘Love Your PhD’ campaign I think it is really important for people to communicate their research. And by communicate, I do not mean just talking to other academics. Of course talking to academics is extremely important; it is an excellent way of sharing work to others in your field. Conferences are great places to share work to peers and to observe what others are doing. It is important, however, to share research with people outside your peer group, to engage with a wider audience.
Sharing research with others can offer an ego boost, you will probably other people that are incredibly interested in your research topic. Even if you are convinced that your topic is the most obscure research topic in the universe there will be something within it that is interesting/applicable to others.
There are many ways to share your work, for example writing a blog or writing articles for newspapers. Universities often want to showcase what research is being carried out at their institution and the University communications team/department equivalent can help you do this. One thing to remember is, you want to make your research accessible, understandable and engaging. An ‘easy’ way of doing this is to practice, try explaining your research to your grandparents/parents/siblings/friends (provided they are not researchers/experts in the same field as you). Alternatively you could film yourself (a scary prospect) but listening to yourself on film can really help you pin point where you can make yourself clearer.
There are of course more innovative ways to share your PhD topic… why not explain your research through the medium of dance. You could even enter the ‘dance your PhD’ competition, there are some great entries on YouTube if you need any inspiration!