Great TED Talks: Melissa Marshall on Scientific Communication

Being able to relay what we do to the public and practitioners as scientists is incredibly important. My field, in particular, is especially applied. Most of what I study aims to improve the methods of practitioners. However, if I don’t take the time to relay this information to the people whose practice I am trying to improve- I’m not doing enough.  Here’s a TED talk from Melissa Marshall about how scientists can do a better job of “translating” information from scientists to the lay public. This information is probably relevant to just about anyone who is speaking with somebody with less familiarity than you about the topic.

The video is short, but if you don’t have the 5 minutes to watch, here are the main points:

  1. Establish why what you do is important
  2. Avoid jargon & make it clear (not the same as dumbing it down)
  3. Be engaging- use stories, examples, and analogies.
  4. Drop the bullet points (use visuals & less words – one point is even better!)

(I have to admit I have a bone to pick with her about her choice of equations… she puts “relevance” as the denominator- in her equation, increased relevance to your audience will result in decreased understanding, which is definitely not true…)