I have definitely been in a seminar where I had absolutely no idea what was going on, and maybe you have too -- the scientist standing on the podium spewing out abbreviations for proteins and speeding through detailed processes, with excitement about how there was a 13% increase in.. something. I’m still sitting here wondering what the first abbreviation meant, where it fits in, and why it’s so important.
A big picture foothold on the topic that is understandable will provide a mental framework for your audience to grasp the important details.
Laura Green, Ph.D., Consortium Project Manager at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, shared her knowledge of science communication in our Young Investigator Webinar Series. Doreen Badheka, Ph.D., Program Director at Rutgers Graduate School of Medical Sciences, and our co-chair for the Young Investigator cohort, moderated the sessions.
“Good communication depends on how you approach telling your science story,” says Dr. Green. “I like to find out as much as I possibly can about the audience, and the environment, that I’m going to be walking into. You need to start making some assumptions about how you’re going to communicate, even if you’re talking to other scientists.”
This requires some investigation prior to constructing a presentation. What is the one take home message you would like your audience to walk away with? Can they find that important message in your diagram? Do they use the same technical terms you do? If they saw your data, would it just be a confusing mess of numbers? Can they connect the details of what you are presenting to its importance in the big picture? If you didn’t know what you know, would anything you’re saying make sense to you?
Our Young Investigator Webinar Series provides early-career researchers, engineers, and data scientists with content and discussions they may not have experienced during their education. Webinars throughout the year provide practical insights, professional development, and an insider’s view on various aspects of biotechnology.
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Young Investigators Webinar Series: Effective Communication in Biomedical Research
Session 1 - Science Communication: General Concepts and Tips
Session 2 - Peer-to-Peer Communication
Christopher Kinzel is the Associate for Communication at the Westchester Biotech Project. He is a biochemist with a Professional Science Master’s (PSM) in Molecular Biosciences. He has a research and technology transfer background, and is now using his experience for business development and communication.