Fresh from the highs of Las Vegas, Northern Ireland’s million dollar man David Meade, is back on home soil for some rather different mind-bending experiments.
This time the Banbridge mentalist (32), is backing FameLab Northern Ireland, the global science communication competition, and is on the lookout for scientists or engineers who can excite and engage the public with weird and wonderful science concepts.
Organised by the British Council, in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Science Festival and Cheltenham Science Festival, FameLab is held annually in over 20 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and the United States, and last took place in Northern Ireland back in 2006.
David, who will be acting as the compere and providing his trademark entertainment at the live final next year, is encouraging up-and-coming science communicators to take part.
He said: “The idea of FameLab is a fantastic one, and it’s great to see such an international competition right on our own doorstep. At present FameLab attracts thousands of scientists from around the world and I’d encourage anyone in Northern Ireland with a passion for science or engineering to take part.
“I’ve always had a keen interest in science, so it’s especially great to see this event tied in with the first ever Northern Ireland Science Festival — this will put us back on the international stage and hopefully get more people interested and engaged in science.”
For the illusionist, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and one he would have loved to have entered.
He said: “It breaks my heart that a competition such as FameLab didn’t exist at an earlier point in my career. I would have entered in a heartbeat. FameLab is a great way to make science fun as well as make your mark in science communication.”
David of course is no stranger to this world, working as a researcher and lecturer in international business and as a keynote speaker for some of the world’s most successful organisations.
He said: “I think most people forget that a huge part of communicating science effectively is creativity. A lot of lecturers and academics don’t understand just how important it is to make a subject entertaining – but through FameLab we can highlight, as well as improve this.
“Personally, I miss being in the classroom and the challenges of teaching something new. If I entered FameLab, I would want to do something a little out there, which got people thinking and sparked new interests.”
So what mind-bending tips would David give to anyone thinking of taking part?
He said: “You’ve only got the first 60 seconds to reel in your audience. If you haven’t caught their attention by then, you’ve quite frankly lost it. It’s therefore vital to grab people’s attention from the off.
“Make your topic as memorable as possible and summarise your key points at the end. The audience won’t remember everything you tell them — what they will remember however is how it made them feel and your goal should be to get them excited. “
The mentalist however feels aspiring science communicators should keep it simple. He said:
“Remember not to cram too many facts and figures into your presentation— people can only hold two or three pieces of information in their head at any one time — sit down and really get to know your topic, then decide what you want to get across.
“Finally and most importantly, know your audience – you have to appeal to both the judges and the masses – keep your presentation simple and don’t embellish with too much scientific jargon.”
Scientists still looking to enter FameLab Northern Ireland have until December 31 2014 to get their applications in (details at http://nireland.britishcouncil.org). To enter, you’ve got to be passionate about science, engineering, technology or mathematics and be able to communicate this effectively in less than three minutes. Contestants, who should be over 21 and working or studying in one of these fields, will need to upload a short video to YouTube which inspires, excites and engages the public with modern science. These submissions will then be whittled down to just 10 who will compete to be crowned the winner of FameLab Northern Ireland.
David will be bamboozling the audience with his legendary mind tricks at FameLab’s live final on Wednesday, February 25, 2015 at The Black Box, Belfast. Tickets are free and available, along with a number of other pre-sale events, at http://www.nisciencefestival.com/.
David’s top five FameLab tip
- Focus on your intro – the first 60 seconds are what count
- Summarise at the end
- Pick two or three facts and focus on them
- Know your stuff
- Know your pitch and make it appeal to both the masses and the judges