Steps to More Effective Communication

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Alan Alda, Co-Founder of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science and Visiting Professor at Stony Brook University, suggests these steps to improve scientific communication. The ability to be empathic and imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling is the key to becoming a more effective communicator.

  • Jargon is gibberish. You have to speak the same language as your audience.
  • The public is on a blind date with science—make them fall in love with science. With effective communication, you can attract people to your ideas. You want people to love the work as much as you do.
  • Confidence comes from being able to relate to your audience.
  • Defeat the curse of knowledge in which people with a specific knowledge incorrectly assume that other people have the same information by using concrete language to express your ideas.
  • Use emotion to communicate science. Information is more easily retained if there is an emotional connection to the idea that is being conveyed.
  • Tell a compelling story about your study results, including the obstacles you encountered.
  • No matter how good your communication skills are, they can always be improved.
  • Scientific knowledge is one of the greatest achievements of human kind and one of the greatest gifts we have to share with each other. When you communicate effectively, you make science exciting and more accessible.
  • The ability to communicate a message effectively is what makes us human and allows technology to advance. ■

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Alan Alda’s passion and appreciation for science extend nearly as far back to his early life as his love of acting. The son of actor Robert Alda, Mr. Alda began his acting career at the age of 16. Although he has appeared in such widely acclaimed films as The Seduction of Joe Tynan, Crimes and...




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