Faculty and trainees participate in science communications workshop

Participants in the two-day workshop completed activities aimed at clarifying their messages

By: Emily Mavrakis
  1. Know your audience. The level of detail and length of your research discussion should vary greatly depending on whether you are speaking to other researchers, your partner or your grandma. Keep in mind that you may need to define key terms and phrases for some people, but not others.

  2. Prepare an elevator pitch. Researchers at the workshop practiced distilling their messages into something they could share in a minute, then 30 seconds and, lastly, 15 seconds. Try to craft two to four sentences that sum up your work or encapsulate the most important finding of your recent publication.

  3. Speak clearly and slowly. People will better absorb the information in your presentation if you slow down and repeat key phrases and concepts. If you have limited time to present, consider areas where you can streamline information and practice incorporating pauses into your address to help with pacing.

  4. Connect with your audience using anecdotes and stories. Audiences will better remember information if they can connect it to a story. Whether it’s a personal retelling of the frustrating process it took to obtain one integral piece of data or an analogy that helped your 5-year-old finally understand natural language processing models, storytelling can be an important component of your messaging.

  5. View your work from an outsider’s perspective. Remember that not everyone has the years of training and experience that you do, including peers who might be well-trained in a completely different area of study. When preparing a presentation or prepping for a media interview on your work, think about where the listener is coming from and incorporate that into your responses.