Packing It All In

11971076566_2579e14df2_z

Before I started traveling more often for work, I used to pack for trips by thinking about all of the things I wanted to bring with me…and then stuffing as much as possible into my allowed luggage. Who knows, I just might need three different pairs of flip-flops! But as this chore became more frequent, I realized how often I didn’t really use most of what I brought, and that my packing method was exhausting both to execute and lug around airports. And so, like any good scientist, I re-examined my method and realized that I should focus on just the things that I thought would be the most useful. Those extra pairs of flip-flops would be waiting when I returned home, and I could always purchase something I needed on the road in a pinch.
[Read more…]

How To Make Yourself Presentable

Taking a new approach to your scientific talk could win you hearty applause from your peers. Photo credit: open hardware summit

Over my three years working here at COMPASS, I’ve come to witness a curious, repeated phenomenon. A significant part of my job involves engaging with scientists through trainings or helping them prepare for conference symposia, policy briefings, or media outreach. For the most part, scientists take on with gusto the task of more effective communication to non-science audiences – diving in headfirst to think outside the box and become better at sharing their research with the wider world. But then…it happens. I see that same scientist who was able to hook in a journalist or get a policymaker to sit up straight in his or her chair, get up in front of his or her scientific peers and again bombard them with fifty shades of n-dimensional graphs. [Read more…]

Is “Cold But Competent” A Problem In Science Communication?

Screen Shot 2013-10-13 at 4.25.02 PM

 This post continues our series focused on science communication research. Instead of reporting on or recapping a single paper, we’re asking what the literature has to say about urgent or recurring questions in our field. This is inspired, in part, by John Timmer’s call for an applied science of science communication. 

A flash of insight can be profoundly pleasurable. For me it’s a little pop that’s the mental equivalent of clearing my ears while diving. Sharing that same electric sensation with hundreds of others in crowd? Then the pop feels more like a champagne bottle, with our individual ‘aha!’s spiraling outward as a fizzy wave of tweets. At the Sackler Colloquium on the Science of Science Communication, Susan Fiske of Princeton University uncorked one such shared moment in her presentation about beliefs and attitudes regarding science when she began speaking about warmth and competence. [Read more…]

2/22/13 Link Round-Up

Photo courtesy of 'Ravages' via Flickr.

It’s been an eventful week at COMPASS! With some of the team at ASLO, others at AAAS, and still others preparing for upcoming trainings and talks – we’ve been busy building networks, talking shop with old friends, and creating new material. We’re also continuing to follow the how the #scio13 hive mind has built momentum since the event a few weeks ago, and then tracking wind-down from all of the excitement surrounding #AAASmtg. Perhaps we’ll even see more musings from the lucky who were able to attend both, like this post by Christie Wilcox (that also mentions our very own Liz Neeley!). In the meantime, here’s a few other things that were on our radar this week: [Read more…]

Why Everybody Needs A Prep Talk

After considerable preparation, Dr. Mark Carr, Dr. Anke Mueller-Solger, and Dan Yparraguirre present their talks on long-term monitoring and adaptive management before an eager audience.

Photo by Chad English.

When people are asked about their greatest fears, many often include public speaking. Something about looking out into a sea of faces hanging on your every word is universally terrifying. However, for me, it is the idea of a practice talk that causes borderline panic – although I’m only looking out into a small pond of faces, they are all intently focused on what I am doing wrong and how to fix it. But here’s the thing: Public talks don’t scare me. Why? Because I am ready. And why am I ready? Because I have worked really hard to prepare.

Whether it’s a legislative briefing or a AAAS symposium, COMPASS requires the scientists we work with to commit to putting in the preparation time. Although we often work with already accomplished speakers, it still takes planning to make sure there is cohesion among multiple talks. After all, even talented musicians must rehearse before playing their first gig together. In the words of UC Santa Cruz marine ecologist Mark Carr, “The COMPASS prep calls prior to our panel presentation really helped to focus the messages of my presentation and linked my presentation with others to make a more cohesive suite of presentations and stronger messages.”

Our prep process generally involves lots of back-and-forth over email, as well as 2-3 conference calls with everyone participating in the event. As we evolve from setting the goals and framing everyone’s talks to dress rehearsals, scientists tend to go through the following three stages: [Read more…]

What Makes A Great Radio Interview?

Photo courtesy of dplanet via Flickr

In my last post, I described the importance of being a good listener in order to be an effective communicator.  As the former production assistant for the environmental radio show Living on Earth, (and as the show’s current part-time transcriber), I’ve had many opportunities to listen critically to and to be a part of great science-minded radio.  While there are many excellent guides out there for interview tips (like this one from AAAS), here are some of the interviewee qualities that I found make for an ultimately interesting and effective piece, as well as some of my own tips for how to best tell your story in this medium: [Read more…]