I recently attended a day-long course run by a science society I am a member of. The day itself was very useful in reminding me of why it is so important as a PhD student to communicate to others what you do in a way that is clear and understandable.
Often, when you are working on the same topic for a prolonged period of time, it is easy to forget the bigger picture and not see the most interesting aspects of what you work on. We often become accustomed to communicating to the same target audience and so use a presenting style and language that is appropriate for this audience and then forget to change this when the audience changes!
So, I thought I would enlighten you with the top tips that I took away from the day:
When you are writing/presenting information always think:
-Who is the target audience?
-What is the main piece of information they will want to know about?
-What is your opening line to gain the attention of the target audience?
-What is the impact of this information on the target audience?
-Always include the who, when where, why and how!
I think the key message from the day was: to always think about who you are writing for/presenting to and then tailor you communications based on what you know about your target audience.
As a scientist, it can be easy to work away in your own little bubble, so thinking about how you can communicate your research and looking for opportunities to do so is really important. Not only can you increase your chances of getting your research published (whether it be online, in the news, tv or in academic journals), it can also help you build contacts, add achievements to your cv and increase your chances of being able to obtain a knowledge transfer role post-study if you so wish. It is also important to keep scientific developments in the public domain, to encourage people to realize the significance of scientific research and how it can impact on our daily lives.
I always find that trying out different opportunities that arise is always helpful in deciding what options do and don’t work for you and these opportunities always have the potential to lead to something else! So be brave and have a go at telling people what you do every day! After all, you never know- people might actually be interested! 🙂