Communicating science to farmers

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Key messages for researchers and technical specialists when trying to communicate science to a farmer audience — particularly through the written word.

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Communicating science to farmers

  1. 1. Sheep Connect Tasmania Communicating science effectively to industry
  2. 2. Communicating science to a farming audience
  3. 3. The keys to effective science communication: <ul><li>No matter what the subject, keep it simple — make it relevant. </li></ul><ul><li>Understand your client — what makes them tick? </li></ul><ul><li>Use words that work — keep it clear, simple and active </li></ul><ul><li>Make it relevant — show them why your message matters </li></ul><ul><li>Easy reading makes damn hard writing. </li></ul><ul><li>Ernest Hemmingway </li></ul>
  4. 4. Connect with your audience <ul><li>Am I targeting a single audience or multiple audiences? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the educational and experiential background of my audience (what do they already know or understand)? </li></ul><ul><li>Where are they located and what is their cultural background? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the key triggers to action for my audience? </li></ul><ul><li>What does my audience want/expect from me? </li></ul><ul><li>Ask yourself: </li></ul>
  5. 5. Getting to know your audience <ul><li>Try to see things from their point of view: </li></ul><ul><li>What are their needs and priorities? </li></ul><ul><li>What are their worries and concerns? </li></ul><ul><li>How do they perceive you? </li></ul><ul><li>How do they perceive the information you offer? </li></ul><ul><li>Remember </li></ul><ul><li>As researchers, farmers trust you have done the research and your results are valid — just get to the point! </li></ul>
  6. 6. Three buttons for audience engagement <ul><li>What will switch your audience on to your message: </li></ul><ul><li>The theory: The practice: </li></ul><ul><li>Logos… Facts and logic </li></ul><ul><li>Pathos… Emotion and feeling </li></ul><ul><li>Ethos… Your credibility </li></ul><ul><li>What matters most to sheep producers? </li></ul>
  7. 7. What message do you want your audience to hear? <ul><li>What facts do they want to know? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Impact on bottom line, wool yield, fertility rates, pasture production </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What arguments do they want to hear? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ease of adoption, high success rate, cost-effective. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What emotions do they want to feel? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Confidence, success, positive impact on animals and land </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What do they want to feel about you? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Confidence, respect, empathy and understanding </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Your message needs to be a painkiller (solution to an existing problem) or a vitamin (feel good factor)…which is more important to your audience? </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Delivering the message — easy as ABC <ul><li>A ccuracy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Your words communicate the right meaning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>You tell the truth </li></ul></ul><ul><li>B revity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Your words get to the point </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Your sentences are short </li></ul></ul><ul><li>C larity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Your words leave no room for confusion or doubt </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Delivering the message — easy as A <ul><li>A ccuracy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use jargon selectively </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If in doubt, check your word use (use a dictionary to ensure the meaning of your chosen word is what you intended) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Take care with punctuation </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Delivering the message — easy as B <ul><li>B revity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Research shows that clear writing has an average sentence length of 15–20 words </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Avoid compound sentences with more than two linked clauses (ideas) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Avoid excessive repetition (say once in a sentence — three times in a story) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Avoid long words if a shorter one will do </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Delivering the message — easy as C <ul><li>C larity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use simple words, which are widely used by your audience, whenever possible </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Consult the A–Z of alternative words — www.plainenglish.co.uk/files/alternative.pdf </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Read you work out loud to check your flow </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Plain English approach <ul><li>Plain English is good clear writing that communicates as simply and effectively as possible. </li></ul><ul><li>Department on Education, Science and Training — Australian Government </li></ul><ul><li>Plain English is: </li></ul><ul><li>Faster to write </li></ul><ul><li>Faster to read </li></ul><ul><li>The most efficient and effective way to be read and understood </li></ul><ul><li>A cornerstone to effective communication </li></ul><ul><li>Plain English isn’t: </li></ul><ul><li>Over-simplified or dumbed down </li></ul><ul><li>About banning words </li></ul><ul><li>Obsessed with grammar </li></ul><ul><li>About changing your message </li></ul><ul><li>Easy  </li></ul>
  13. 13. A quick note about scientific jargon <ul><li>Before using jargon make sure: </li></ul><ul><li>Your audience will understand it </li></ul><ul><li>You understand it! </li></ul><ul><li>There isn’t another word or phrase that is equally as accurate, but more widely used </li></ul>
  14. 14. Metaphors — handy tools for explaining science <ul><li>Metaphors are: </li></ul><ul><li>A way to describe something as if it was something else </li></ul><ul><li>Particularly useful when an idea is complex or you need to grab attention </li></ul><ul><li>An example: “Think of a delicious layered cake and you are well on your way to understanding the multiple benefits of tree crops. </li></ul><ul><li>The rich chocolate cream represents the potential profits of the enterprise; the delicate vanilla sponge is the substance the enterprise could offer a regional community; the liqueur-soaked cherries are the environmental benefits of a perennial crop…..” </li></ul><ul><li>Energy tree crops — have your cake and eat it! Focus on Perennials Issue 14 Future Farm Industries CRC 2010 </li></ul>
  15. 15. Above all else — what’s in it for me? <ul><li>If you remember nothing else…remember to: </li></ul><ul><li>Delivery your message in a way that ensure your audience sees a benefit </li></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li>Acknowledgements: </li></ul><ul><li>Sharon Mascall </li></ul><ul><li>Making sense </li></ul><ul><li>M: 0414 439 347 </li></ul><ul><li>E: [email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>W: www.makingsense.com.au </li></ul>

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