#TipTuesdays

Science Communication Tips

If the question has a faulty premise, answer with a useful fact in the general realm of the question. Example: While I can't comment on garlic's vampire killing ability, some studies suggest it can help lower blood pressure. Take your message seriously, don't take yourself seriously. Avoid Alphabet Soup: Anytime you use an acronym, make sure your audience knows what it means. Use the rule of three: By framing your argument around three main points, you take advantage of the human brain's natural affinity for concise patterns. Lists of three are catchy, memorable, and entertaining! Don't get stuck in the Dunning Kruger Effect Valley. Experts are less inclined to weigh in on a topic that isn't their exact area of expertise, but amateurs aren't nearly as scrupulous. There will always be someone who knows more than you, so don't let that stop you from speaking up! Skip the unnecessary parts: Does your audience REALLY need to know the names of every neurotransmitter receptor to understand how an antidepressant works? Don't make them depressed. Axe the Extra. Stand on the Shoulders of Giants: Who said it best? If struggling to explain a concept, paraphrase those who may have said it well. Bonus Points if the source is a weird one. Like Carrot Top. If you can't fully explain a topic, partial explanations will do! Science still can't totally explain what gravity is, but scientists agree it's not a good idea to stand under a falling piano. Slow down. Research shows that the optimal words per minute ratio for retention is 100 words per minute. Speak their language: Know your audience and speak their language. For example, when speaking to grad students about finances, use Top Ramen as a unit of value. Bride Your Audience. If you have to explain something dry or complex, promise your audience a treat at the end. Promise readers a Fun Fact, a video of a Red Panda, or an embarrassing photo of yourself at their age. Use a metaphor to explain a concept in terms your audience may understand better. Like comparing T cells to mercenaries. Star with a joke: Warm up your audience with a joke relevant to your field. For example, "How many Germans does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Zero. Because we're all engineers and we don't have a sense of humor." Keep Them Guessing: Whenever you have to give a long list of facts, throw in something absurd for your last item. Surprises boost adrenaline, which as been shown to enhance memory! Instead of using numbers to describe an infection rate, use a graph of zombies. The weirder, the more memorable. Information Hamburger: 1. Tell them what you're going to tell them. 2. Tell them. 3. Tell them what you told them.
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