Woo! I’m going to start my first series on the blog! Over the next weeks I will be releasing posts about several tips for communicating science to the public that fit under four broad best practices that I list below.
I’m excited to share my ideas with you and hear what you have to say. Thanks for reading and look for more new posts in this series soon!
What are your #bestpractices for #scicomm? Leave me a comment below or tweet me (@crhoffman99).
Know your audience. Take time to understand which entity of the public (see here) you are talking to. If you are doing something planned, like a public talk or visit, learn about the group and understand what experiences they may have. This knowledge will help you connect with your audience and leave them with a lasting impressing. When talking to people for the first time, take some time to first get to know their experiences and interests, which leads me to point number two!
Make it a conversation. No one likes to be lectured, we all know that. Communication and learning are two-way streets where you should be facilitating a conversation about a topic. Ask questions, ask for opinions or personal experiences. Genuine interest in the responses and opening up the conversation will make you successful.
Your message can be flexible. You never know where a conversation will lead you! Be flexible with your message. You may begin a conversation about melting sea ice and greenhouse gases, but your audience keeps bringing the conversation back to a local issue. Lean in. Don’t back away from this new theme, but engage and discuss with them. Adjust your message to fit the interests and experiences of your audience.
Keep it simple. We all know science can be complicated…most things are! But unless people ask about the details, keep it simple. Remove jargon and words that need too much explantation. Use images, pictures, analogies, objects and more to let your audience gain a holistic experience.
Oh, and one last thing….
Respect your audience. I feel like this shouldn’t need to be stated, but it does. When you are talking to someone in the public, respect their opinions and viewpoints. Even though you may disagree with someone who choose not to vaccinate their children, by disrespecting their opinion you are only setting up for disaster. Be respectful: people will listen. Even if you’re audience is not right in front of you (like Twitter) don’t talk down to them!