By Emily Henry
Whilst the value of your scientific research might be obvious to you, those on the outside sometimes struggle to penetrate the value of what you’re doing. Science communication is essential for many reasons, it can help secure more funding, and it can also inspire future generations to pursue answers to deep questions. Communicating science isn’t easy – here are nine top tips to help you get the message across.
1. Put Your Audience First
When it comes to communicating about science, it’s important to first understand your audience. How you present information to an elementary school class will be very different to a group of adults. Try putting yourself in their shoes, asking yourself what are the most engaging points from their perspective – this will guide how you build your science communication agenda.
2. Centre Your Message
“When it comes to communicating scientific topics, you’re often dealing with complex matters,” says Karen Williams, a blogger at Studydemic and OXEssays. “To effectively communicate these to the general public, untangle your research to find a core message that’s comprehensible to those without a scientific background.”
For example, if you’re talking about ocean pollution, identifying everyday materials which contribute to harm in the ocean helps to connect your topic to people’s lives. Finding a central message that’s relatable will help your message hit home.
3. Explore A Deeper Connection
Public perception of science is often of a rational and unfeeling discipline, yet for scientists invested in their research this couldn’t be further from the truth. When it comes to communicating your research, think not only about the facts you’ve uncovered but also about how it makes you feel, and about the potential it has for an emotional impact on your audience. Connecting reason with feeling will foster deeper engagement and open the minds of your audience.
4. Build A Narrative
Humans love a story. From moral fables to TV soaps, a strong narrative has always been the best method of communicating deeper meaning. Try to find a story within your research. This can be a personal story, something that follows your journey, or something more abstract – even the life cycle of plankton can become a gripping tale in the right hands!
5. Reach Out To Journalists
Growing your platform for reaching an audience is important as it broadens the impact of your work. Reaching out to journalists can provide a large network you otherwise couldn’t have accessed. Journalists are always looking for a story and are happy to be contacted – before meeting for an interview, prepare yourself well and give concise answers that are at the heart of your interests. Remember, journalists will ruthlessly chop your answers to make it fit their format so make sure you focus on core issues.
6. Tone It Down
Remember, not everyone has a PhD in Oceanography! “To communicate science you sometimes need to take a reductive approach,” says Blair Duncan, a science writer at Essayroo and Ukservicesreviews. “Think about who amongst your audience has the lowest level of apprehension, and start out writing your brief for that individual.”
7. Be Ready For Controversy
Scientists are used to a rational approach but with controversial issues you’ll find preconceived notions and emotional arguments rising to the fore. If you’re talking about climate change and the impact on coastal regions, for example, you need to tread a delicate balance. Simply dumping facts won’t change someone’s mind – a delicate approach that builds trust is the best way through.
8. You Don’t Need All The Answers
Sometimes, it’s the answers that we don’t have that are the most engaging. When it comes to science communication, remember that you’re not letting anyone down when you don’t have all the answers. The open questions provide a good opportunity to get the audience thinking – embrace the mystery.
9. Multiple Forms Of Media
Although you may be used to writing journal articles to communicate your message, the general public generally like a variety of formats. YouTube videos, podcasts and even graphic novels have all become effective ways of communicating science and research in recent years. Get creative and you’re likely to impact on a wider audience.
When communicating your research, remember to put your audience first: ask yourself what their values and commitments are, and let that lead the way you put out your message. Treat science communication like an experiment – play with the variables and see what works.
About the Author
Emily Henry is the lead science writer at Best Essay Services and Writing Populist. She has a degree in physics from the University of Warwick and has produced for television and radio. Her mission is to bring science and technology to a wider audience. Also, she is a blogger Academized reviews.