We believe that these nine principles can help every scientist communicate ideas to change the world.
1) Be passionate. Palpable enthusiasm is contagious. It will carry people along for the great ride of science. Sharing what inspires you about your work will help others see the potential.
2) Build the big picture first. Resist the temptation to dive into the details. Frame what you say by explaining what exists today, the future possibilities, and how your work will fill the gap.
3) Be understandable. Use plain, common language. Avoid or translate acronyms. Start from where your audience is, not where you are. Use iconic references to link science to everyday familiar experience.
4) Extract the essence. Don’t drown the listener in details. Never dumb it down. Formulate your single overarching message and support points. Tell the story.
5) Spend more time on why it matters, and less time on how you do it. Never promote science for the mere sake of science. Always demonstrate the value to people and the planet we inhabit.
6) Balance precision with impact. Choose language carefully to be clear and directionally accurate. Long phrases bog the listener down. Think and speak in short sentences. Imagine you are a physician – the exact, detailed language is important when speaking to a surgeon about a patient, but can overwhelm the patient themselves.
7) Consider your audience. Think carefully about what they know. Start there. Try to find out if they are understanding you. When you get what you want, stop talking. Don’t feel compelled to fill the allotted time.
8) Be honest and human. The integrity of your word must be unquestionable. Verify your facts. Evaluate your sources. Be yourself. Make an emotional connection by showing up as a person first, a scientist second. Pretend your mom is in every audience. Make her proud.
9) Enable your audience to act. Know the purpose of your communication. Make the ask. Leverage each conversation and presentation to build support for advancing your work. Remember you are ultimately building relationships for the long run.