The Catalyst
The Catalyst

The Catalyst hosts weekly improvisation sessions designed for the scientific community. We also offer a variety of workshops that teach theatre and speaking skills to scientists or other groups.

Presentation skills for scientists 

As scientists, we need our ideas to be convincing and memorable. In our writing and in our talks we need to keep fellow researchers, collaborators, funders and the public engaged, and make sure our ideas stick in their minds for hours, days, or even years after contact. Essentially, we need to be excellent communicators. In this workshop, we will use storytelling, presentation, and improvisation techniques in an interactive workshop to help participants better communicate their research to their peers, to colleagues from another field, or to the public.

Can range from a one-time 2-hour course to a 6-week class. We've taught this internationally in short formats and in long format for the HEC Lausanne doctoral program

The creative process of science: improvisation, collaboration, innovation 

Science is a much more creative process than most people realise. In this scientific improvisation workshop we see how collaborative play and improvisation techniques can be used to explore scientific concepts. Generally, improvisation is fun, but beyond the simple pleasure of laughing together, we can also employ improvisation techniques in our creative scientific thinking. Specifically, we can learn how to explore new concepts, problems, and hypotheses together, while temporarily silencing our inner critics to find innovative out-of-the-box solutions. (as given at ScienceComm 2015, Solothurn)

Innovation Through Metaphor for Science, Business and Policy-Making

In nature we see certain concepts and structures again and again. Molecular-scale friction can act like friction between tectonic plates. Our body’s relationship to cancer vs. a parasite vs. a fetus during pregnancy. Colonisation on the scale of a civilisation vs. colonisation of your gut by new bacteria. Flow of blood in your arteries, water through a leaf, or of cars through Geneva. 

We will explore how metaphor can be used to increase innovation in science, business, and policy: When metaphor is useful? When does it break down? How can we harness its power? (as given at Lift 2016, Geneva)

Engage, Inform, Inspire: Bringing Your Presentation Skills to the Next Level

A two-day workshop on building and performing great scientific presentations, as given for CUSO. 

Mixing storytelling and research: Your thesis in 3 minutes

One-day workshop on how to build a 3-minute research talk, as given for CUSO. 

Theater skills to be a better speaker and a more innovative scientist

This workshop can also be fitted to a variety of contexts (example: 1 hr, Center for Integrative Genomics Retreat, Sept 2014). In addition to tools for public speaking, this workshop has an additional focus on the use of improvisational tools in scientific thinking. For more information on these ideas, see Uri Alon's talk at TEDxLausanne.

Improvisation and Theater Skills for Educators

How can we train ourselves to be more engaging for our students? Improvisation tools improve presentation skills, help us deal with change, and work better in teams, by increasing people’s capacity to be spontaneous, listen, and work together generously. These skills can be extremely helpful for educators, especially for conveying complex information.   In this workshop we do many exercises that build public speaking, active listening, and creative thinking skills. 

We can also design a workshop to meet your needs.