Wednesday, February 03, 2010

where to catch me: with scientists

In February, I'm facilitating another day-long Communicating Science workshop for the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Science Foundation, on Thursday, February 18, at the AAAS Annual Meeting in San Diego. There are a few slots left for this intensive, fun and hands-on workshop for scientists if you pre-register here. Go to the same link if you want to register for the future workshops March 22 in Austin, Texas, or April 29 in Boulder, Colorado.

While I usually warn the participants that we'd need much more than a day to thoroughly cover communicating science with public audiences, it's always heartening to hear how much more confident participants feel once they've had a chance to learn, ask questions and practice in a supportive environment. Here's what some participants have said following the workshops:
  • I went straight from wearing a suit and meeting with Congressional aides to wearing field pants and talking to town managers and kids on the beach! The communication tips and message that you (and the workshop participants) helped me develop was extremely useful. After the workshop, I felt much more confident talking to people about my research and why they should care about funding science
  • I realized that after 25 years I still have problems explaining what I do in a brief, easy to understand fashion. At our lab open house, we have debated presenting what we do in a scientific fashion or as entertainment, and I think now we need to simplify the message, seek more feedback from people that come, and use the new electronic media to at least advertise the event. Presenting the science without considering the audience has been our main mistake.
  • I found the message crafting exercises to be most useful. Not only was it useful to think critically about my own work, the video exercise allowed us to craft messages for our colleagues. This exercise helped me to try out the skills learned on a topic that I wasn’t as familiar on.
  • [I found most useful] the "defining your audience" section, where we learned not to underestimate our public or overestimate our own knowledge on a subject.
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