The science of communicating science Xavier Kirchner FCRI – IMAE Program, Director June 2008 art Jaume Vilalta TVC – QuèQu...
Showing our cards The three simple messages <ul><li>Not appearing in the press  should not be an option for a scientist </...
Why are we here? Scientists – journalists  a love-hate story <ul><li>What is our role in the game? </li></ul><ul><li>What ...
The hate story <ul><li>Why is there a gap between  “news generators” and “news broadcasters”? </li></ul>
Scientist? <ul><li>We have very little social presence </li></ul><ul><li>Trivialities and banalities  are news,  why aren’...
Journalists? <ul><li>We get worried about audience …  … who cares about science and scientists? </li></ul><ul><li>In any c...
…  the world from the other angle <ul><li>There are architects, doctors and lawyers  who are “media stars”; Being  in scie...
Love story (of convenience) <ul><li>Two players that need each other? </li></ul>
The interdependence diagram (cynical view) Science Media Research $ Audience Advertising $ Votes Politicians (Society,   D...
<ul><li>Media is us (today) </li></ul><ul><li>Science is our future </li></ul>
Surviving and evolving is a matter  of adapting Have scientists and scientific institutions adapted to the Information Soc...
Why?  (adapt – to appear in the media) <ul><li>To get known, to get recognition </li></ul><ul><li>To get more money </li><...
How?  (to adapt) A matter of understanding <ul><li>US </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Gnothi seauton“ (Know yourself – Socrates) <...
Knowing the rules What do journalists need? <ul><li>To fill a newscast or a program </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To do it cheaply...
Knowing the rules Is what I did a piece of news? <ul><li>A piece of news is … </li></ul><ul><ul><li>…  a novel breach </li...
“ ...reference point  for a community” <ul><li>Clearly define the  target community  … … and do not lose focus </li></ul><...
Could what I did / have done / do  be a piece of news? <ul><li>Don’t let the lack of communication skills spoil a good new...
Moving on <ul><li>Zooming into the 3Ws:  What ,  HoW  and  Who </li></ul>
What <ul><li>New </li></ul><ul><li>Close </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Subject </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Character </li></ul></ul...
How Sex, lies & videotapes <ul><li>Conflict    Situation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Dialectics – Disagreement – Fight </li></u...
Who Two ways to get attention <ul><li>You are the news </li></ul><ul><li>You are the character </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If yo...
A character who wants to communicate, does communicate Branding It's a matter of communication
Rivalries reinforce characters Differences generate interest It's a matter of communication
You can be respected  even if you talk about complex subjects
The power of overcoming difficulties  <ul><li>Personal testimonies  endorse messages and  get attention </li></ul>
People identifies with challengers either “anonymous” …
People identifies with challengers …  or with a well known name
The power of love <ul><li>A powerful Who can help any What&HoW </li></ul>
Facts are from Mars  (or even Saturn) ,  people are from Venus <ul><li>COLD FACTS  could be boring (and/or tough) </li></u...
Good casting Key factor for success <ul><li>Not the wisest, not the savviest …   The best communicator </li></ul><ul><li>...
You know how to whistle, don’t you? Just put your lips together - and blow  <ul><li>You are the character    you have to ...
Passion for communicating <ul><li>Enter the heart to get into the brain </li></ul><ul><li>Be honest, be sincere, be yourse...
A scientist who communicates is not doing science Communication strategies go first <ul><li>Avoid “Pangea’s syndrome”  </l...
Love & Communication takes two Messages: Focused, clear and loud <ul><li>News    target audience </li></ul><ul><li>Audien...
How to ride a horse Getting adapted to TV <ul><li>Some recipes for success </li></ul>
Knowing “the other” - 1 TV dumb box & magic lantern <ul><li>A picture is worth a thousand words. </li></ul><ul><li>(some o...
Knowing “the other” - 2 One team, one success <ul><li>Participating in a TV program means becoming a member of a team </li...
A concept is a concept, is a concept <ul><li>Tangible </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Human scale </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sizable...
One idea per program Keeping focus    holding attention <ul><li>What matters is the result </li></ul><ul><ul><li>not the...
From phenomena to explanations Don’t start by building the roof  first <ul><li>Start near the ground, telling stories … </...
You do not paint the final picture Putting the puzzle together is somebody else’s role <ul><li>Somebody will have to summa...
Working with journalists <ul><li>Journalists are human too… </li></ul>
Your team to get to “your fans” <ul><li>With  a little help from your friends: Professionals  who help you  to communicate...
Circuit road blocks <ul><li>Bad communication between scientists and their press office </li></ul><ul><ul><li>no communica...
Preparing the work of the team <ul><li>Anticipate the news </li></ul><ul><li>Allow the journalists to follow the process <...
…  and then,  the audience opens the oven …
We have success when <ul><li>the audience  is able to explain   what they have seen  </li></ul><ul><li>to their neighbors ...
Thank you! Now let’s talk Jaume Vilalta <jvilalta.b@tv3.cat> Xavier Kirchner <xavier@kirchner.cat>
Backup slides
“ a novel breach of the order of things ” <ul><li>Alteration in the “status quo” of the community </li></ul><ul><li>The mo...
“ ...reference point  for a community ” <ul><li>What has  impact  on people’s lives … </li></ul><ul><ul><li>…  in material...
Some road blocks on the way … <ul><li>“ Science” as a subject has not yet a slot  on the daily media programming on a perm...
One idea per program Keeping focus    keeping attention <ul><li>A single engine:  one powerful and meaningful story </li...
Communicate science doesn’t mean  to follow the Scientific Method <ul><li>What matters is the result </li></ul><ul><ul><li...
The information circuit One of Dante’s circles? * <ul><li>*  2 golden  rules </li></ul><ul><li>Be polite </li></ul><ul><li...
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The art of communicating science

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Jaume Vilalta (Director of the Quequicom TV program in the TVC) and Xavier Kirchner (Director of the IMAE program in the FCRI) explain what's the key to Communicate Science.
jvilalta.b@tv3.cat
imae@fcri.cat

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The art of communicating science

  1. 1. The science of communicating science Xavier Kirchner FCRI – IMAE Program, Director June 2008 art Jaume Vilalta TVC – QuèQuiCom Program , Director
  2. 2. Showing our cards The three simple messages <ul><li>Not appearing in the press should not be an option for a scientist </li></ul><ul><li>Journalist play their part but they play on the scientists’ side </li></ul><ul><li>TV has its own rules You may as well follow them </li></ul>3 2 1
  3. 3. Why are we here? Scientists – journalists a love-hate story <ul><li>What is our role in the game? </li></ul><ul><li>What are we looking for? </li></ul>
  4. 4. The hate story <ul><li>Why is there a gap between “news generators” and “news broadcasters”? </li></ul>
  5. 5. Scientist? <ul><li>We have very little social presence </li></ul><ul><li>Trivialities and banalities are news, why aren’t really important things? </li></ul><ul><li>Journalists have no idea about science </li></ul><ul><li>… they don’t really make the effort to understand our explanations and they usually make mistakes </li></ul>
  6. 6. Journalists? <ul><li>We get worried about audience … … who cares about science and scientists? </li></ul><ul><li>In any case, when something really important happens, we publish it </li></ul><ul><li>Small achievements are not news items </li></ul><ul><li>They are always late when reporting news </li></ul><ul><li>It is too complicated … … let’s leave it for the specialized press </li></ul>
  7. 7. … the world from the other angle <ul><li>There are architects, doctors and lawyers who are “media stars”; Being in science is really important but why aren’t there any media scientists? </li></ul><ul><li>Scientists are difficult to get, they are always “too busy” to talk to journalists </li></ul>
  8. 8. Love story (of convenience) <ul><li>Two players that need each other? </li></ul>
  9. 9. The interdependence diagram (cynical view) Science Media Research $ Audience Advertising $ Votes Politicians (Society, Decision makers, …) ? This is what we are talking about
  10. 10. <ul><li>Media is us (today) </li></ul><ul><li>Science is our future </li></ul>
  11. 11. Surviving and evolving is a matter of adapting Have scientists and scientific institutions adapted to the Information Society?
  12. 12. Why? (adapt – to appear in the media) <ul><li>To get known, to get recognition </li></ul><ul><li>To get more money </li></ul><ul><li>To be able to defend ourselves … … to be able to attack others </li></ul><ul><li>To “pay tax” and be able to keep working </li></ul><ul><li>To give back to society </li></ul><ul><ul><li>… helping to make it more intelligent and more perceptive </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Somebody (a boss) asked me to do it … </li></ul>?
  13. 13. How? (to adapt) A matter of understanding <ul><li>US </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Gnothi seauton“ (Know yourself – Socrates) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>S trengths </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>W eaknesses </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Objectives: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What to explain? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>THE OTHER </li></ul><ul><li>Know the context </li></ul><ul><ul><li>O pportunities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>T hreats </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Know the rules </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Riding a bicycle is not the same as riding a horse </li></ul></ul>?
  14. 14. Knowing the rules What do journalists need? <ul><li>To fill a newscast or a program </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To do it cheaply and quickly </li></ul></ul><ul><li>To give the news and get attention </li></ul><ul><li>Not to be left behind </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To be able to repeat what others say </li></ul></ul><ul><li>To get celebrities or charismatic characters who communicate well </li></ul>
  15. 15. Knowing the rules Is what I did a piece of news? <ul><li>A piece of news is … </li></ul><ul><ul><li>… a novel breach </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>in the order of things </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>susceptible to becoming </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>a reference point </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>for a community </li></ul></ul>News  “new” News  change “ permanent” & important Target context
  16. 16. “ ...reference point for a community” <ul><li>Clearly define the target community … … and do not lose focus </li></ul><ul><li>The wider the community, the larger the step </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If the step is large enough it is understandable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If it is not understandable it is not large enough </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The shorter “the distance”, the larger the impact and the significance </li></ul>
  17. 17. Could what I did / have done / do be a piece of news? <ul><li>Don’t let the lack of communication skills spoil a good news item </li></ul><ul><li>Scientists are and may be shown as interesting people </li></ul><ul><li>There is life beyond the news reports … </li></ul><ul><li>… but it needs a context </li></ul><ul><li>Not everything scientists do is a piece of news … </li></ul><ul><li>… but … </li></ul><ul><li>… most of the things that scientists achieve have a great impact on people’s lives … </li></ul>! It's a matter of communication
  18. 18. Moving on <ul><li>Zooming into the 3Ws: What , HoW and Who </li></ul>
  19. 19. What <ul><li>New </li></ul><ul><li>Close </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Subject </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Character </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Unique </li></ul>? Or it could be shown like that It's a matter of communication
  20. 20. How Sex, lies & videotapes <ul><li>Conflict  Situation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Dialectics – Disagreement – Fight </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Protagonist – Antagonist </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Discovery  Process </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Exploring with new eyes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Participation </li></ul></ul>? Envelope Story Boost Two ways of engaging the audience It's a matter of communication
  21. 21. Who Two ways to get attention <ul><li>You are the news </li></ul><ul><li>You are the character </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If you are the character you have the right to generate news “per se” </li></ul></ul>?
  22. 22. A character who wants to communicate, does communicate Branding It's a matter of communication
  23. 23. Rivalries reinforce characters Differences generate interest It's a matter of communication
  24. 24. You can be respected even if you talk about complex subjects
  25. 25. The power of overcoming difficulties <ul><li>Personal testimonies endorse messages and get attention </li></ul>
  26. 26. People identifies with challengers either “anonymous” …
  27. 27. People identifies with challengers … or with a well known name
  28. 28. The power of love <ul><li>A powerful Who can help any What&HoW </li></ul>
  29. 29. Facts are from Mars (or even Saturn) , people are from Venus <ul><li>COLD FACTS could be boring (and/or tough) </li></ul><ul><li>Specially if they are slow </li></ul><ul><li>or difficult to visualize </li></ul><ul><li>WARM PEOPLE are always interesting </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t commit the sin of modesty, … </li></ul><ul><li>get out of the closet, … </li></ul><ul><li>but with something to say </li></ul>* Much better if you are the news It's a matter of communication
  30. 30. Good casting Key factor for success <ul><li>Not the wisest, not the savviest …  The best communicator </li></ul><ul><li>Bosses can do well, … OR NOT </li></ul><ul><li>Being engaged with the subject  passion helps to transmit love </li></ul><ul><li>When you are the character  you have to perform </li></ul>
  31. 31. You know how to whistle, don’t you? Just put your lips together - and blow <ul><li>You are the character  you have to perform </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Get out of the lab, out of the office </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Make pictures </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use your hands </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use what you have on hand </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Film what you do and film yourself </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Make mock-ups / do experiments </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Don’t be shy … a “second take” is always an option </li></ul>
  32. 32. Passion for communicating <ul><li>Enter the heart to get into the brain </li></ul><ul><li>Be honest, be sincere, be yourself </li></ul><ul><li>Forget stereotypes, forget patterns </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t imitate </li></ul>
  33. 33. A scientist who communicates is not doing science Communication strategies go first <ul><li>Avoid “Pangea’s syndrome” </li></ul><ul><li>Lose your fear of making a fool of yourself </li></ul><ul><li>Simplifying does not mean devaluing </li></ul>
  34. 34. Love & Communication takes two Messages: Focused, clear and loud <ul><li>News  target audience </li></ul><ul><li>Audience  people </li></ul><ul><li>People  “level” </li></ul><ul><li>What is the “right level”? </li></ul><ul><li>Very intelligent 13 year-old student </li></ul><ul><li>How science impacts his/her life and his/her community? </li></ul>#
  35. 35. How to ride a horse Getting adapted to TV <ul><li>Some recipes for success </li></ul>
  36. 36. Knowing “the other” - 1 TV dumb box & magic lantern <ul><li>A picture is worth a thousand words. </li></ul><ul><li>(some of them not intentionally) </li></ul><ul><li>… but very few ideas </li></ul> Communicating Science  select & renounce  It's a matter of … TV
  37. 37. Knowing “the other” - 2 One team, one success <ul><li>Participating in a TV program means becoming a member of a team </li></ul><ul><li>Accept sharing your experience with the other team members knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>A common objective: to succeed </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Your success is their success </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Their success is your success </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Journalists play on your side </li></ul>
  38. 38. A concept is a concept, is a concept <ul><li>Tangible </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Human scale </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sizable in € </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Intangible </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Too big, too little </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Invisible” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hidden </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Abstract </li></ul><ul><li>Actions </li></ul><ul><li>Using words (and drawings, and analogies, but they are useless without words). </li></ul><ul><li>Metaphors, analogies </li></ul>From real situations  to general concepts Never the opposite It's a matter of … TV
  39. 39. One idea per program Keeping focus  holding attention <ul><li>What matters is the result </li></ul><ul><ul><li>not the way </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>not the method </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Transmitting knowledge is not building knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>The path is full of traps, don’t fall into them </li></ul><ul><ul><li>experimental processes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Amusing anecdotes… </li></ul></ul><ul><li>KEEP FOCUSED ! </li></ul>1 
  40. 40. From phenomena to explanations Don’t start by building the roof first <ul><li>Start near the ground, telling stories … </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t start formulating prouncements </li></ul><ul><li>Always go </li></ul><ul><ul><li>from the example to the concept </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>from what is particular to what is general </li></ul></ul>
  41. 41. You do not paint the final picture Putting the puzzle together is somebody else’s role <ul><li>Somebody will have to summarize,  it will be better if you do it  or better if you help with it </li></ul><ul><li>Make the editor’s job easier and your time & effort useful: speak clearly </li></ul><ul><ul><li>don’t use subordinates </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>don’t use long sentences </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>don’t use too technical words … … or explain them </li></ul></ul>
  42. 42. Working with journalists <ul><li>Journalists are human too… </li></ul>
  43. 43. Your team to get to “your fans” <ul><li>With a little help from your friends: Professionals who help you to communicate well </li></ul>
  44. 44. Circuit road blocks <ul><li>Bad communication between scientists and their press office </li></ul><ul><ul><li>no communication at all </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>delays </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The press office blocks direct communication between scientist and journalists </li></ul><ul><li>Scientist do not dedicate enough time </li></ul>
  45. 45. Preparing the work of the team <ul><li>Anticipate the news </li></ul><ul><li>Allow the journalists to follow the process </li></ul><ul><li>Document the steps </li></ul><ul><li>Get permission and image rights </li></ul><ul><li>Prepare a clear and understandable dossier </li></ul>
  46. 46. … and then, the audience opens the oven …
  47. 47. We have success when <ul><li>the audience is able to explain what they have seen </li></ul><ul><li>to their neighbors and friends </li></ul><ul><li>“ There is nothing true that </li></ul><ul><li>cannot be explained in simple words” </li></ul><ul><li>Cristian Ruiz i Altaba </li></ul>
  48. 48. Thank you! Now let’s talk Jaume Vilalta <jvilalta.b@tv3.cat> Xavier Kirchner <xavier@kirchner.cat>
  49. 49. Backup slides
  50. 50. “ a novel breach of the order of things ” <ul><li>Alteration in the “status quo” of the community </li></ul><ul><li>The more novel and unexpected … … the more impacting / striking / effective </li></ul><ul><li>Accidents are sudden, progress is slow and sometimes predictable </li></ul>After 15
  51. 51. “ ...reference point for a community ” <ul><li>What has impact on people’s lives … </li></ul><ul><ul><li>… in material, emotional or intellectual aspects </li></ul></ul><ul><li>… or </li></ul><ul><li>What has significance … </li></ul><ul><ul><li>… helps to better understand the world in which we live </li></ul></ul>After 16
  52. 52. Some road blocks on the way … <ul><li>“ Science” as a subject has not yet a slot on the daily media programming on a permanent basis </li></ul><ul><li>There is no local “scientific star system” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Nobody to follow and imitate </li></ul></ul>After 17
  53. 53. One idea per program Keeping focus  keeping attention <ul><li>A single engine: one powerful and meaningful story </li></ul><ul><li>To widen the angle  risk of loosing focus </li></ul><ul><li>Sub-stories MUST be in line and to reinforce the main idea </li></ul>1 After 38
  54. 54. Communicate science doesn’t mean to follow the Scientific Method <ul><li>What matters is the result </li></ul><ul><ul><li>not the way </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>not the method </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Transmitting knowledge is not building knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>The way is plenty of traps, don’t fall in them </li></ul><ul><ul><li>experimental processes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>funny side phenomena … </li></ul></ul><ul><li>KEEP FOCUSED ! </li></ul>1  After 33
  55. 55. The information circuit One of Dante’s circles? * <ul><li>* 2 golden rules </li></ul><ul><li>Be polite </li></ul><ul><li>Understand each other’s job </li></ul>After 43 Press office 1rst filter & “sale” Journalist Synthesizes, verifies, ... Journalist Negotiates with TV managers Audience interprets Scientist Generator
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