Science Communication

When you’re writing a paper, presenting at a conference, or talking with a local resident, your main job is to tell a good story. If you remember only one thing, this is it. Figure out your main take-home message (or a few messages, if you have the time or space), and make sure everything you do helps to communicate that story to the audience.

The scientific presentation is often misused and abused, but a presentation done well is very engaging, informative, and fun for both the speaker and the audience. Here are some of my favorite ideas and resources on how to make your presentation sing:

Once you’ve figured out the story you want to tell, the next step is to display your data clearly. Data are the heart of any scientific presentation, and it’s vital that both the visuals and your oral presentation help your audience understand the data and what they mean.

Data aren’t everything. Harness the power of pictures to engage your audience — it will increase their attention and retention. Along those lines, reduce and rethink words on the screen. The typical format of long, bulleted lists is more painful than useful. A word or phrase on the screen can help focus your audience, but a screen full of text will force your audience to choose between reading the screen or listening to you (or letting their attention wander away entirely). The presentation resources page has good information on pictures, fonts, colors, and other topics.


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