8 Tips to Help Communicate a Controversial Topic

Many people tend to shy away from speaking about controversial topics, fearing that the audience will not receive the message well, or that conflict and confrontation will arise.  Although sometimes communicating a controversial topic can cause the audience to respond in a negative way, it doesn’t mean that the only outcome is conflict. When you find yourself needing to communicate a controversial topic, using methods that promote open minded, positive discussion will go a long way to diffuse any conflicts. In

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Building Trust, Collaboration, and Understanding, Through Communication

Getting your message across is important, but what happens when you want the audience to do something with that message? If you are presenting in a workshop or special session you may want the audience to interact with you, join a community, retain and use the new information, or be inspired to contribute to the overall subject matter. When your goal is to have greater interaction with the audience, you will need to consider questions such as; what is the take home message? How

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Focusing on the Audience’s Needs, 4 Common Problems in Public Speaking

Determining the needs of your audience can feel like a daunting task. There are many things to take into consideration, such as; are you presenting to like-minded professionals? Is this a public outreach event? Does the audience know any of the subject matter?  What age group is the audience? Is the audience full of native speakers of your language, or not? Is jargon going to confuse most of the audience?  And the list goes on and on. However, just because audience consideration

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Three Tips to Improve Your Public Speaking

Being good at a task is often attributed to talent, genetics, or plain luck. Although this is the common way of thinking, it ignores some fundamental facts about how our brains work, and the way we learn. Humans learn through trial and error combined with repetition. Take a young child for example, if you watch them while they learn to walk, you already have seen how many attempts (probably in the thousands) it takes for them to complete their first few wobbly

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Using the Potential of Anecdotes to Communicate Science

Story telling by way of anecdotes is a powerful tool that has been used throughout human history. Anecdotes are short, amusing or interesting stories about a real incidents or persons. However, often times scientists are reluctant to use them for fear of losing the audience or sounding unintelligent, particularly when speaking to colleagues. There is a tendency in science communication to revert to the format of the written word, most commonly the format of the generic scientific paper (i.e. Introduction, Methods, Results and

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Charisma to Get Your Point Across

Some time ago I heard a story on one of my favorite podcasts, Planet Money (Episode 508: A Bet On The Future Of Humanity) about a bet that was made, between an Economist and a Biologist, based on the fate of humanity. The story goes that Dr. Paul Ehrlich believed that humans were careening towards disaster due to the rapid use of natural resources and population strain put on the environment. Meanwhile, Dr. Julian Simon believed that due to the adaptive

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Striking a Balance Between the Delivery and Your Message When Speaking in Public

Sometimes you may experience great presentation that does everything right; a good story, interesting data, good visuals and has the wow factor that keeps the audience attentive. I can remember having attended many different seminars based solely on the topic. In those cases I was always hoping the speaker would interesting as well. I am a science nerd so it is easy for me to be excited about someone who had done (geological) research in some far off land. I remember attending special sessions

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Common Speaking Mistakes We All Make (And How To Fix Them!) Part 2

Here we continue with the simple fixes for common speaking mistakes that we all make. If you haven’t checked out part one you may want here. Mistake Number 5: Putting stuff on slides that you are not going to talk about If I had a dime for every scientific talk that did this then I would have enough money to buy a yacht. Generally this is considered a beginner mistake, where the speaker is trying to explain their work and gets

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Common Speaking Mistakes We All Make (And How To Fix Them!) Part 1

Speaking in public is one of the most common fears that people share. The threat of humiliation and embarrassment in front of a crowd is, for some, more terrifying than death. Regardless of your own personal feelings towards speaking in public, in most every profession you will likely need to give a presentation or talk sometime in the future. Additionally, in the sciences with the current political situation and many people harboring a distrust of science, public communication is more important than

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The Power of Intensity

Taylor Mali

If you haven’t already heard of Taylor Mali you have been missing out on a prominent poet from the slam poetry movement. In this post we explore how Taylor uses the power of intensity to draw in the audience and stir up emotion. There are many performances where Taylor uses the power of intensity in his poetry, but I will focus on the poem “What Teachers Make?” in this post. Taylor has performed “What Teachers Make?” many times over the years and I’ve included

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