Latest news

Public speaking training

March’s in-person training session was a public speaking masterclass for 6 people, hosted by the CSJ. We took attendees through how to craft their presentations, how to deal with nerves and how to keep control when chairing a Q&A.

Literature reviews for think tanks webinar

Heather Plumpton, Senior Policy Analyst at Green Alliance, led us through her approach to the research process and, in particular, how to conduct a literature review as a think tanker, in the first of our webinars to encourage the sharing of knowledge between our think tanks.

Senior communications breakfast

Our latest Senior Comms Breakfast took place at the RAC Club with 16 different think tanks represented by their senior comms person. Discussion was lively covering everything from submissions to Select Committees to recruitment to planning for the election.

Bespoke media training

The Centre for Progressive Policy were the latest think tank to ask for a bespoke media training session where they could learn and practice with just their team, giving them a chance to also hone CPP’s unique message and style. In their lovely offices as well!

People management training

January’s in-person training session was on people management – especially important in smaller organisations like think tanks. This all-day training covered the difference between leadership and management, having difficult conversations and the art of delegation.

Introduction to AI and policy webinar

This was a very popular webinar with our members! Dr Maria Perez-Ortiz, Associate Professor at the Centre for Artificial Intelligence at UCL  took us through an in-depth look at what AI is, what are the different strands, the potential uses in policy and the risks and limitations.

Meet the Select Committee

We took 20 think tankers from over 10 different think tanks into Parliament to meet with committee staff from the Economics Affairs Select Committee and the Public Services Select Committee. After mingling and networking with each other they had the chance to find out more about how they can better engage with Select Committees and boost the impact of their work.

New WhatsApp network groups

We’ve had a busy month hosting our different network groups – operations, events, communications! Following on from these meetings we have set up dedicated chat groups for those in the different networks to better keep in touch and share advice and knowledge.

Research project management training

Our latest research project management training focused on building the skills to manage the life cycle of a research project from planning each aspect, implementation, completion, and evaluation. Great to see sharing of best practice between attendees and think tanks as well!

Senior communications staff meeting

In a change of format the Centre for Social Justice hosted our senior communications breakfast group for tea and cake and a detailed discussion on planning comms, motivating your team and how to measure impact.

Practical dataviz for think tankers webinar

November’s webinar welcomed back Gavin Freeguard for a session on ‘Practical dataviz for think tankers’ and a look at how to build attractive, accurate and impactful charts in Microsoft Excel (although you can apply the principles in other programmes) with a follow along, interactive data sheet.

Operations network group - in person!

Our Operations Network met for the first time in-person this month in Green Alliance’s lovely offices. We had a detailed chat on everything from cyber and safety audits to VAT to HR policies. This group has been meeting for over a year now and it was great to get some of them in a room together. Pictured is those members happy to be in the photo!

Ask me anything with James Heale

Political correspondent at The Spectator, James Heale, joined us for our first ‘ask me anything’ event. James started with a useful post-mortem of party conference and where the parties are now and then the discussion opened up to the audience and their questions which covered the run up to the General Election as well as what draws journalists to think tank events.

Fundraising fundamentals training

Our first fundraising fundamentals training session! We covered the key differences between different funders (individuals, trusts and foundations, corporates) and their drivers for support, critical success factors you need in place to succeed in fundraising, gap analysis, new business approach and assets and tools to help with your proposals.

Heads of Research meeting

This month we hosted our second Heads of Research meeting with 9 different think tanks represented. The lively discussion covered planning research programmes in 2024, the General Election, staff training and the use of AI. This is a quarterly meeting for all think tank members – kindly hosted by the think tanks themselves.

Writing good HR policies webinar

Our latest webinar was aimed at those working in HR and operations in a think tank. Ellis Pratt took us through the differences between policies and procedures, reviewing your HR policies and the potential use of generative AI in this area. All members can access this and all other webinars in our webinar archive.

Getting GDPR right webinar

Our September webinar was a look at GDPR and what think tanks need to know about this regulatory area, the latest legislation changes and a quick run through of the different bases for collecting data. Lesley Cooley also talked through the key principles of GDPR to understand as smaller organisations and what to do when things go wrong.

Salary benchmarking

We just published the first salary benchmarking exercise for the UK think tank sector. A number of our members submitted their salary data so that we could collate and analyse median salaries by grade, by function and within the research function as a whole. We also gathered information on the non-salary employment benefits offered to staff including holiday, pension contribution, days in office, maternity and paternity leave and sickness and staff retention rates.

New CPD points system

In recognition of the time spent by our members in training and networking we have formalised this with a new Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points system. We hope this will enable individuals to better quantify their training achievements over a year as well as see whether they are in line with their peers. Find out more about how many points you can earn, how to access your record and the prize for the year’s “best learner”!

Public speaking masterclass 2

Our final training session before the summer break was another public speaking masterclass. Due to the popularity of June’s training we decided to host the same training in July. Once again, we kept the session small and intensive with 6 think tankers from different think tanks getting the chance to practise 2 different speeches, learn how to structure a presentation and play the chair in our interactive Q&A roleplaying exercise.

New bi-monthly events call

Our first networking call for those working in think tank events was held in July. We had an excellent turnout and everyone was keen to meet their peers. Topics covered included upcoming party conference, databases, postponing events effectively and events ticketing. These calls will now be regular fixtures on the member calendar with an in-person meet up planned for later in the year.

First principles of PowerPoint webinar

In this webinar we went through the basics of PowerPoint design and the rules to follow to produce clear and professional PowerPoint presentations. Focusing on 5 core design ideas to bear in mind Ian also used examples to show how simple changes can improve your slides.

Bimonthly operations call

At the latest bimonthly operations call we moved ahead with our upcoming salary benchmarking exercise. Members are submitting their salary and other benefits data and we will produce a report detailing the sector salary ranges across all roles plus an interactive model members can use to see where they sit in comparison to their peers.

Public speaking masterclass

Our first public speaking training! Designed by Smart Thinking this was an intensive session for 6 think tankers where they got a chance to practice two different speeches, including understanding how to design their talks, and finishing with an interactive Q&A exercise (where everyone got very involved in the role-playing)!

MRP polling - the latest polling techniques webinar

Multi-level regression and poststratification (MRP) is a technique used to estimate public opinion in small geographic areas. A recent innovation, MRP came to prominence for predicting constituency-level election results. Gaining in importance in the polling world Stack Data Strategy gave us a good overview of what it is, how it works and how it may be useful for think tanks.

The basics of public speaking webinar

Being able to speak confidently in public is a core skill for many working in think tanks, especially for those in the research and communications teams. We were delighted to welcome Robin Kermode, best-selling author, popular keynote speaker, MC and respected media commentator, to give us a whistle-stop tour, with some practical suggestions and tips, on how people can speak more confidently and prepare themselves for those public events.

Heads of Research meeting

We held the inaugural session of our new Heads of Research meeting in May. This was a gathering for those leading the research at their think tanks. This was a busy session with topics including commissioning research, managing teams and the length of reports. This will become a regular fixture in our networking events.

Leadership masterclass training

In our latest training session twelve think tankers worked together to understand better the difference between leadership and management, drew up their own definitions of what makes a good leader and rated themselves against the 8 categories participants had decided were the key leadership qualities. The afternoon was spent working together to solve their current leadership issues.

Managing the mental health of your team webinar

Our latest member-only webinar was with mental health expert Gary Johannes who provided insight and tools to enable us to better manage mental health at work for the benefit of all in the team. He looked at managing your own stress and mental health first before helping your team with practical and helpful suggestions.

Media training

Our media training for think tankers session is the most popular of all our training. In March we held the fourth session at the CSJ offices. Five think tankers were put through their paces with practice press, radio and TV interviews – all with reports they plan to publish in the next few months, to make it extra useful!

Senior communications breakfast

Our latest senior communications breakfast, held in March, was very well-attended with a lively discussion covering podcasts, newsletters, securing op eds, website upgrades and audience segmentation. With a few regular attendees there is now a real sense of community building at the quarterly get-together.

Having difficult conversations webinar

The latest webinar we hosted for members was with HR expert Katy Foster who gave her 9 practical steps to follow to hold a successful difficult conversation at work, including avoiding surprises, keeping people in the room and sticking to facts, not feelings.

Think tank CEO lunch

Our first Think Tank CEO Lunch was held in March. Ten think tank leaders gathered for a private discussion among peers on the issues facing the sector today.

Writing clear policy training

This full day training session was a heavily interactive look at how to write clear policy. We held individual and group exercises looking at writing in the active tense, condensing information, writing summaries and how to better plan your report, at an early stage.

Research project management training

We hosted a full day training session on research project management training covering the life-cycle of a research project including how to plan for risks and unknown unknowns, keeping on track and managing expectations. The group also all shared their own best practice tips from their own think tanks for some knowledge sharing across the sector!

10 steps to podcasting success webinar

We welcomed Rick from Podcast Pioneers for our January webinar. Whatever you want to achieve with your podcast campaign and whoever you want to move, having a clear strategy from the start will help you maximise the power of audio. This webinar focused on 10 key steps to think about when planning your podcast.

Meet the civil service event

In December civil servants in the Cabinet Office hosted 9 ST member think tanks in Whitehall for an informal discussion on how think tanks can more effectively engage with the civil service.

Designed as an informal discussion so that both the think tanks and civil servants had a chance to learn from each other, topics covered included how to find the right person to engage with, how to submit your research in the most effective way and at what point in the policy process is your input most likely to be effective.

Senior communications breakfast

We hosted our second Senior Comms Networking Breakfast in November where think tank Heads/Directors of Communications can meet and talk off-the-record about the opportunities and challenges facing them. Topics included comms strategies, what to do about Twitter and what other comms channels to explore to widen your impact and audience.

Webinar graphic – Facebook

How to incorporate polling into your research webinar

Nick Partington from Stack Data Research ran a bespoke webinar for us on using polling accurately and effectively. He covered some of the common pitfalls when designing questions, what to avoid when running your own polling as well as what to look for if commissioning from an external provider.

Media training for think tankers

We hosted two half-day intensive sessions this autumn with the journalist Simon Brooke. In each session we looked at how the media works, how to talk to the media effectively and structure your message. Every participant had the chance to gain practical experience with recorded broadcast interviews and individual feedback.

Practical dataviz for think tankers webinar

November’s webinar welcomed back Gavin Freeguard for a session on ‘Practical dataviz for think tankers’ and a look at how to build attractive, accurate and impactful charts in Microsoft Excel (although you can apply the principles in other programmes) with a follow along, interactive data sheet.

Operations network group - in person!

Our Operations Network met for the first time in-person this month in Green Alliance’s lovely offices. We had a detailed chat on everything from cyber and safety audits to VAT to HR policies. This group has been meeting for over a year now and it was great to get some of them in a room together. Pictured is those members happy to be in the photo!

Ask me anything with James Heale

Political correspondent at The Spectator, James Heale, joined us for our first ‘ask me anything’ event. James started with a useful post-mortem of party conference and where the parties are now and then the discussion opened up to the audience and their questions which covered the run up to the General Election as well as what draws journalists to think tank events.

Fundraising fundamentals training

Our first fundraising fundamentals training session! We covered the key differences between different funders (individuals, trusts and foundations, corporates) and their drivers for support, critical success factors you need in place to succeed in fundraising, gap analysis, new business approach and assets and tools to help with your proposals.

Heads of Research meeting

This month we hosted our second Heads of Research meeting with 9 different think tanks represented. The lively discussion covered planning research programmes in 2024, the General Election, staff training and the use of AI. This is a quarterly meeting for all think tank members – kindly hosted by the think tanks themselves.

Writing good HR policies webinar

Our latest webinar was aimed at those working in HR and operations in a think tank. Ellis Pratt took us through the differences between policies and procedures, reviewing your HR policies and the potential use of generative AI in this area. All members can access this and all other webinars in our webinar archive.

Getting GDPR right webinar

Our September webinar was a look at GDPR and what think tanks need to know about this regulatory area, the latest legislation changes and a quick run through of the different bases for collecting data. Lesley Cooley also talked through the key principles of GDPR to understand as smaller organisations and what to do when things go wrong.

Salary benchmarking

We just published the first salary benchmarking exercise for the UK think tank sector. A number of our members submitted their salary data so that we could collate and analyse median salaries by grade, by function and within the research function as a whole. We also gathered information on the non-salary employment benefits offered to staff including holiday, pension contribution, days in office, maternity and paternity leave and sickness and staff retention rates.

New CPD points system

In recognition of the time spent by our members in training and networking we have formalised this with a new Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points system. We hope this will enable individuals to better quantify their training achievements over a year as well as see whether they are in line with their peers. Find out more about how many points you can earn, how to access your record and the prize for the year’s “best learner”!

Public speaking masterclass 2

Our final training session before the summer break was another public speaking masterclass. Due to the popularity of June’s training we decided to host the same training in July. Once again, we kept the session small and intensive with 6 think tankers from different think tanks getting the chance to practise 2 different speeches, learn how to structure a presentation and play the chair in our interactive Q&A roleplaying exercise.

New bi-monthly events call

Our first networking call for those working in think tank events was held in July. We had an excellent turnout and everyone was keen to meet their peers. Topics covered included upcoming party conference, databases, postponing events effectively and events ticketing. These calls will now be regular fixtures on the member calendar with an in-person meet up planned for later in the year.

First principles of PowerPoint webinar

In this webinar we went through the basics of PowerPoint design and the rules to follow to produce clear and professional PowerPoint presentations. Focusing on 5 core design ideas to bear in mind Ian also used examples to show how simple changes can improve your slides.

Bimonthly operations call

At the latest bimonthly operations call we moved ahead with our upcoming salary benchmarking exercise. Members are submitting their salary and other benefits data and we will produce a report detailing the sector salary ranges across all roles plus an interactive model members can use to see where they sit in comparison to their peers.

Public speaking masterclass

Our first public speaking training! Designed by Smart Thinking this was an intensive session for 6 think tankers where they got a chance to practice two different speeches, including understanding how to design their talks, and finishing with an interactive Q&A exercise (where everyone got very involved in the role-playing)!

MRP polling - the latest polling techniques webinar

Multi-level regression and poststratification (MRP) is a technique used to estimate public opinion in small geographic areas. A recent innovation, MRP came to prominence for predicting constituency-level election results. Gaining in importance in the polling world Stack Data Strategy gave us a good overview of what it is, how it works and how it may be useful for think tanks.

The basics of public speaking webinar

Being able to speak confidently in public is a core skill for many working in think tanks, especially for those in the research and communications teams. We were delighted to welcome Robin Kermode, best-selling author, popular keynote speaker, MC and respected media commentator, to give us a whistle-stop tour, with some practical suggestions and tips, on how people can speak more confidently and prepare themselves for those public events.

Heads of Research meeting

We held the inaugural session of our new Heads of Research meeting in May. This was a gathering for those leading the research at their think tanks. This was a busy session with topics including commissioning research, managing teams and the length of reports. This will become a regular fixture in our networking events.

Leadership masterclass training

In our latest training session twelve think tankers worked together to understand better the difference between leadership and management, drew up their own definitions of what makes a good leader and rated themselves against the 8 categories participants had decided were the key leadership qualities. The afternoon was spent working together to solve their current leadership issues.

Managing the mental health of your team webinar

Our latest member-only webinar was with mental health expert Gary Johannes who provided insight and tools to enable us to better manage mental health at work for the benefit of all in the team. He looked at managing your own stress and mental health first before helping your team with practical and helpful suggestions.

Media training

Our media training for think tankers session is the most popular of all our training. In March we held the fourth session at the CSJ offices. Five think tankers were put through their paces with practice press, radio and TV interviews – all with reports they plan to publish in the next few months, to make it extra useful!

Senior communications breakfast

Our latest senior communications breakfast, held in March, was very well-attended with a lively discussion covering podcasts, newsletters, securing op eds, website upgrades and audience segmentation. With a few regular attendees there is now a real sense of community building at the quarterly get-together.

Having difficult conversations webinar

The latest webinar we hosted for members was with HR expert Katy Foster who gave her 9 practical steps to follow to hold a successful difficult conversation at work, including avoiding surprises, keeping people in the room and sticking to facts, not feelings.

Think tank CEO lunch

Our first Think Tank CEO Lunch was held in March. Ten think tank leaders gathered for a private discussion among peers on the issues facing the sector today.

Writing clear policy training

This full day training session was a heavily interactive look at how to write clear policy. We held individual and group exercises looking at writing in the active tense, condensing information, writing summaries and how to better plan your report, at an early stage.

Research project management training

We hosted a full day training session on research project management training covering the life-cycle of a research project including how to plan for risks and unknown unknowns, keeping on track and managing expectations. The group also all shared their own best practice tips from their own think tanks for some knowledge sharing across the sector!

10 steps to podcasting success webinar

We welcomed Rick from Podcast Pioneers for our January webinar. Whatever you want to achieve with your podcast campaign and whoever you want to move, having a clear strategy from the start will help you maximise the power of audio. This webinar focused on 10 key steps to think about when planning your podcast.

Meet the civil service event

In December civil servants in the Cabinet Office hosted 9 ST member think tanks in Whitehall for an informal discussion on how think tanks can more effectively engage with the civil service.

Designed as an informal discussion so that both the think tanks and civil servants had a chance to learn from each other, topics covered included how to find the right person to engage with, how to submit your research in the most effective way and at what point in the policy process is your input most likely to be effective.

Senior communications breakfast

We hosted our second Senior Comms Networking Breakfast in November where think tank Heads/Directors of Communications can meet and talk off-the-record about the opportunities and challenges facing them. Topics included comms strategies, what to do about Twitter and what other comms channels to explore to widen your impact and audience.

Webinar graphic – Facebook

How to incorporate polling into your research webinar

Nick Partington from Stack Data Research ran a bespoke webinar for us on using polling accurately and effectively. He covered some of the common pitfalls when designing questions, what to avoid when running your own polling as well as what to look for if commissioning from an external provider.

Media training for think tankers

We hosted two half-day intensive sessions this autumn with the journalist Simon Brooke. In each session we looked at how the media works, how to talk to the media effectively and structure your message. Every participant had the chance to gain practical experience with recorded broadcast interviews and individual feedback.

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