Thursday, 12 February 2015: 10:30 AM-12:00 PM
Room 210ABEF (San Jose Convention Center)
Climate change. Synthetic biology. Personalized genomic testing. Risk of Ebola. Video games and violence. Controversy is the best thing that can happen in a scientific field, especially when progress is slow. It draws people to the topic, educates them about the issue and challenges them to share in the messy process of discovery. But in this era of little time and a shrinking news hole, how do you best communicate what is known – and still unknown - in ways that are accurate and understandable, especially in a fledgling field? I’ll describe how to frame an issue, describing what has been found, what it means and why it matters. I’ll offer some effective metaphors, analogies, visual imagery and narrative storytelling techniques. We’ll discuss how to broaden the message, involving economics, human health, national security and politics, and translate dull data into images that are memorable and full of impact. And I’ll propose ways to respond if asked about work that is outside your lab. If you communicate effectively - providing information about contentious topics in an interesting way that people find relevant - your research will get much more attention, changing minds and matters.