In today’s world, it feels that scientific facts are increasingly under attack. As scientists, it’s tempting to reply by quoting impressive figures and statistics, brandishing our graphs, trying to win the argument.
But winning the argument isn’t the same as winning the person.
In a piece for Naturejobs by Dr. Eileen Parkes of Queen's University Belfast, she argues that winning hearts is key to good scientific communication. By pouring our energy into understanding the hopes, fears and dreams of others, we can connect on a personal level, leading to a real change of hearts and minds.
Read the whole piece here.
Dr. Eileen Parkes
Clinical postdoctoral fellow, Medical Oncology
Queen's University Belfast
In the public’s view microbiology is an abstract science that is not easily seen nor understood.
To help visualize the science, many microbiology instructors do a basic experiment on the first day of class – environmental swabs. Using what is essentially a fancy Q-tip®, students swab cell phones, backpacks, table tops, and water bottles. Anything people can touch is fair game, the list of potential surfaces goes on and on. The swabs are then smeared on a glass plate and left to “grow.”
You’re standing at the lectern, ready to deliver the opening lines of your talk. What do you say first?
If this is a conference talk, chances are you start by thanking the organizers for inviting you to speak, then the audience…or if it’s a seminar, you might start with how happy you are to be there…blah blah blah. BORING!
I recently gave a presentation on how to talk science to normal people. After I finished there was the usual question and answer. One of the audience asked me a fairly simple question, which I sadly fumbled. "How do you explain scientific consensus to someone who doesn't agree?" I don't remember the rambling answer I gave at the time, but the question has been stuck with me ever since. I finally came up with what I think is a pretty decent answer and it involves cake.
Communication is very much like marketing, where how you say something depends entirely on who you are talking to. For example, this blog is for casual readers with various types of education and background. I prefer to write content here in a very causal and conversational tone. I'm okay starting a sentence with a conjugation and ending one with a preposition. Grammar rules be damned. That is a conscious style choice that I think works best for my targeted audience.
Well, it is official...we are no longer Science Talk NW.
We Are Science Talk.
Or if you prefer, we are ScienceTalk.org. We don't judge...you can choose how you want to say it.
We thought it would be good to have someplace on this website to discuss and promote opportunities for public engagement, or something similar. Message boards are so 2008, blogs reign supreme....
Let's start the discussion.
Post in the comments any links to online and face to face opportunities to put scicomm skills into practice. Or send us a message about something else you may be curious about and we can start up a different post on that topic.
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