Neuronline Spotlight: How to Translate the Importance of Your Research
Your audience’s attention is powerful, but elusive. How can you capture it? By learning to use proven communication techniques, summarized below, to craft your narrative.
Whether you are talking to schoolchildren during Brain Awareness Week, policymakers during SfN’s Hill Day, or your neighbors on the weekend, capturing your audience’s attention will enable you to share why your research matters.
The Power of Effective Storytelling: Communicating the Value of Brain Research
This workshop, moderated by Public Education and Communication Committee Chair Frances Jensen, chair of the Neurology Department at the University of Pennsylvania, features Lara Boyd, a neuroscientist and physical therapist at the University of British Columbia and past TED Talk presenter; Jayatri Das, chief bioscientist at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia and curator of the Your Brain exhibit; Lyl Tomlinson, a AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow; and Laura Helmuth, the health, science, and environment editor for The Washington Post.
They explain how to condense complicated research into a moving story, make audiences curious, take advantage of institutional communications resources, and guide the press to cover your science accurately.
Reflecting on her TED Talk, Boyd says, “It wasn’t too simple. I really wanted to say ‘oligodendrocyte,’ ‘multicomponent relaxation imaging,’ or ‘T2 relaxation times,’ but the organizers said, ‘We want it simpler.’ That was an important lesson to me.”
Why Doing Local Advocacy Supports Federal Funding
This interview with Charlotte Boettiger, an associate professor of behavioral and integrative neuroscience at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a former member of SfN's Government and Public Affairs Committee, explains why it’s important for scientists to advocate at the local level to secure federal funding for basic and biomedical research.
“The public generally thinks of scientific discovery as a linear, predetermined course, but it’s not,” she says. “That’s why funding basic research that doesn’t have an immediately obvious health benefit is crucial — and why we need to continue to make the case to our policymakers, starting at the local level, to invest in our work.”
Offering ways to engage your local representatives, she also shares how to simplify your narrative so that it’s understandable to anyone, which can help you show policymakers how your research is solving a problem.
How I Communicate the Importance of Animals in Research With Any Audience
In this interview, Katalin Gothard, a professor in the physiology and neurology departments at the University of Arizona College of Medicine and former member of SfN’s Committee on Animals in Research, offers advice for talking about research that involves animals.
Having honest conversations, she says, can help people understand how scientists work with animals and support responsible use of animals in research. Show you care about the animals and your work and listen to others’ points of view.
“Start the dialogue and ask, ‘How do you feel about this? Why do you think you feel this way? What do you think is the hardest part for you to reconcile?’ The answers are often eye-opening and thought-provoking,” she says.
Neuronline, an SfN website, helps neuroscientists to advance in their training and career and connect with the global scientific community year-round.