ScienceSnippets: Building communication skills and sharing what you love

Clearly communicating the impact of your research is one of the most important skills you need to develop as a scientist, and yet typically it is only taught by doing (and if you are lucky, feedback – especially critical feedback). Clear communication is important to get funding and resources for your work, to publish it, to entice collaborators, to impress colleagues and supervisors, … and to not be boring at parties when asked “So what do you do?”

With the help of the Broad Communications lab, I put together an exercise to help me and my lab to build our skills. It’s called ScienceSnippets and results in a video of you describing what you do, geared to a non-scientist audience. (No relationship to this Science Snippets, which is also super cool!)

It takes about an hour so it’s a perfect dive-right-in exercise to take the place of group meeting sometime (like when someone cancels last minute). You create a script that is around 5 sentences, which translates to 30 seconds.

Results from my lab? As I recall, most were not excited about being captured on video and some were downright nauseous. But it was clear they learned a lot from this little experiment and have carefully thought through what aspects of their project are compelling and how best to convey the impact of their work.

Give it a try and post the results online tagged #ScienceSnippets! Here’s mine (video) and Dr. Beth Cimini’s (video). If you want to guide your lab through the exercise, check out the slides here.

For more great resources in learning how to communicate better, check out the Broad Institute’s Communication Labs.