Since 2009, I have been training scientists, policymakers and journalists how to effectively talk about science in a way that thoughtfully links outcomes to public benefit, leading to better science-based policymaking.
The trainings last from a few hours to multiple days, and cover a variety of science and policy topics, including science writing, presentation design, public speaking, science-to-policy translation, scientific integrity and publishing. They are a mix of lecture and exercises, and are tailored to the needs of the audience. Below are a few examples:
This course takes the participant through the basics of science communication. We ask what exactly is “science communication” and how it differs from giving a presentation at a conference, why doing it well matters, and what sorts of change good science communication can support. I present a number of quick tips for doing it successfully, and participants are asked to dissect their complex topic into key talking points and come up with en “elevator speech” that they can use the next time they need to explain their work quickly and effectively.
Aimed at scientists, this course goes in depth about what it means to effectively and persuasively communicate science. I explain how to simplify language and not "over-communicate," how to resonate with your audience, and how to convey what really matters about your research. We go through a number of practical exercises, such as writing an elevator speech, a science news article, and a policy brief. At the end scientists should be equipped to give effective science policy talks to any audience.
This course, meant for journalists delving into the world of science reporting, takes the participant into the mind of the scientist. Why do scientists distrust journalists? How can you break down these barriers? How can you extract a simple story from complex info? And, what what does the jargon of the day mean? I work with journalists to help them understand some of the basics of environmental (and other) sciences, and then go through exercises that can help them pull clear, concise information from the mouths of scientists.
How many times have you went to a conference and seen a slide that was nothing but words, or a jarring jumble of unclear pictures? In this course, I take participants through the basics of good visual design. This includes how to use color palettes, tricks to good photography, and how to use balance and harmony to create beautiful visual design. I also cover rules on word use, the importance of personal appearance and give examples of different types of effective presentation styles depending on the audience.
Too often, scientists, policymakers and other technical specialists get in the habit of writing complex, elaborate sentences. Such writing is, however, challenging to understand at best, and incomprehensible at worst. Plain English writing follows rules to make your writing more accessible to everyone. This includes keeping sentences short, using active verbs, and using lists as needed. In this half-day long course I go over the rules of plain English and have participants practice their hand at an essay or two.
This course lets participants dig into the science of communication. Behavior Change Communication (BCC or SBCC) is the strategic use of communication techniques and tools to promote changes in attitudes, behaviors and social norms. BCC is based on the Social Ecological Model that recognizes the spheres of influence that interact to drive personal decisions and behavior. This course discusses BCC theory and practical examples, and works with participants to design BCC methods and interventions.