Excellent public engagement with science builds on a foundation of clear, concise communication. This section provides guidance and tips to improve your communication skills.
The way scientists are trained is excellent preparation for communicating with precision about your work with colleagues. When communicating with public audiences, however, you need to shift to the way you would speak when ‘off the clock.’ Think about the last time you explained your work to a friend or family member. Those who care about you are highly motivated to understand the science you work on, yet they may struggle to engage with it.
As highlighted in the diagram below, typical scientific communication (such as the last journal article you read or wrote) includes a lengthy background, and then describes the methods and process used with great precision. It is not until the very end of the paper that results or conclusions are reported.
Public communication flips this approach on its head: the bottom-line is the lead, followed quickly by the “so what,” and then the supporting details, as appropriate.