This month the hive-mind at Mindfully Wired is pondering comms training. It's all too easy for us to get buried in our comms bubble at MWC: as in all professions, we start to assume the tools and language we use day-in, day-out are commonly understood by our friends and clients. Comms toolbox? Who doesn't know what we mean by that?! #SciComm? Bread-and-butter terminology, no?
Whatever you do for a living, getting stuck in your silo is a risk. Getting stuck in your method of communication comes hand in hand with that - and it's important to take a step back, look at how you are speaking to the world around you and think about the implications it has for your work. If your work is amazing - and in environmental science, marine conservation and fisheries we find amazing stories everywhere - you want to make sure it's reaching people, and it's reaching them in a compelling way.
So, we'll be broadening our offering next year. Having looked at our own work and the tools and approaches we find invaluable, we're going to be bringing them out into the science and professional community in the environment sector. We'll be hitting the road with our particular silo - #commsgeek terminology and linguistic wizardry - and developing tailored training and workshops.
To kick off this new mission, a few basic tips and tricks for talking about your amazing work, whatever it is:
- First question to ask: who is your audience, and what do you know about them? What is their level of expertise? One of the biggest challenges in science and environmental communication can be breaking down complex language and terminology, and really putting yourself in the shoes of someone with *no* experience of the subject matter.
- So, get what you want to say down on paper. Then scan through and highlight any subject-specific, expert words. Highlight long words that could be replaced with a simple, common-language alternative. Try breaking your own language down and see just how close you can get to the core of your argument. Bear in mind even broadsheet newspapers have a reading age 'ceiling' of just 14.
- If you want to try communicating out loud: try talking about your work as if you've met a family friend in a supermarket. You have little time, and they are focused on their grocery shopping. How do you get them to understand what's important about what you do? Find the headline in your work and lead with it. In. Simple. Terms.
- Never forget imagery and format. Gorgeous photos, artwork and film help your audience to generate a personal connection to a subject. How those images are presented, and juxtaposed with text or speech, will also have a huge impact on how they're digested. If you're presenting: do you even need text?
We could write reams on each of these bullets - but blogs aren't meant to be essays. There'll be much more from us on science communication methods - not least our dedicated training sessions. Watch this space for updates, and be in touch if you'd like more information or tips!
And if YOU want to test your #SciComm skills - why not write us a blog? 300-500 words on your area of expertise and NO jargon. Challenge accepted?