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The art of comunicating science

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The art of comunicating science

  1. 1. art The science of communicating science Jaume Vilalta Xavier Kirchner juny 2008
  2. 2. We show our cards Just three messages 1 2 3 To do not show on the media should not an option for a scientist Journalist play their role, but they play on scientists side TV has its own rules. It is better to follow them
  3. 3. Why are we here? Scientists – journalists, a hate & love story What is our role in the game? What are we looking for?
  4. 4. The hate story Why the gap between “news generators” and “news broadcasters”?
  5. 5. Scientist? We have very little social presence Trivialities and banalities are always pieces of news, why really important things never are? Journalists have no idea of science … they don’t really make the effort to understand our explanations and they usually make mistakes
  6. 6. … the world from one angle Journalists never call us We have to investigate, we have to publish, … we are too busy to make self promotion … … this is not our priority Who cares … Talk shows are not serious … Journalists want everything in short, … they give us too little time to make clear enough explanations
  7. 7. Journalists? We get worried about audience … … who cares about science and scientists? In any case, when something really important happens, we publish it Small achievements are not pieces of news They are always late when reporting news It is too complicated … … let’s leave it for the specialized press
  8. 8. … the world from the other angle There are architects, doctors, lawyers, who are “media stars”; being science so important, why aren’t there any media stars scientists? Scientists are difficult to get, they are always “too busy” to talk to journalists
  9. 9. The love (of convenience) story Two parts who need each other?
  10. 10. The interdependence diagram (cynical view) $ Politicians (Society, Decision makers, …) Research Science Media $ This is what we are talking about ? Advertising Audience Votes
  11. 11. Media is us (today) Science is our future
  12. 12. Surviving and evolving is a matter of getting adapted Have scientists and scientific institutions adapted to the Information Society?
  13. 13. Why? (to get adapted – to show in the media) To get known, to get recognition To get more money To be able to defend ourselves … … to be able to attack others To “pay the tax” and be able to keep working To give back to the society … helping to make it more intelligent and more perceptive Somebody (a boss) asked me to do that …
  14. 14. How? (to get adapted) A matter of understanding WE "Gnothi seauton“ (Know yourself – Socrates) Strengths Weaknesses Objectives: What to explain? Why? THE OTHER Know the context Opportunities Threats Know the rules It is not the same to ride a bicycle than a horse
  15. 15. Knowing the rules What do journalists need? To fill a newscast or a program To do it cheap and quickly To give the news, to get attention Do not be left behind To be able to repeat what others say To get celebrities or charismatic characters who communicate well
  16. 16. Knowing the rules Is what I did a piece of news? A piece of news is … … a novel breach of the order of things susceptible to become a reference point for a community News News “new” change “permanent” & important Target context
  17. 17. “...reference point for a community” Clearly define the target community … … and do not loose focus The wider the community, the larger the step If the step is large enough it is understandable If it is not understandable it is not large enough The shorter “the distance”, the larger the impact and the significance
  18. 18. Could what I did / have done / do be a piece of news? Not everything scientists do is a piece of news … … but … … most of the things that scientists achieve have a great impact on people’s lives … It's a matter of communication Don’t let the lack of communication skills to spoil a good piece of news Scientists are and may be shown as interesting people There is life beyond the news reports … … but it needs a context
  19. 19. Moving on Zooming into the 3W: What, HoW and Who
  20. 20. What New Close Subject Character Unique It's a matter of communication Or it could be shown like that
  21. 21. How Sex, lies & videotapes Envelop Conflict Situation Story Dialectics – Disagreement – Fight Protagonist – Antagonist Boost Discovery Process Exploring with new eyes Participation Two ways of engaging the audience It's a matter of communication
  22. 22. Who Two ways to get attention You are the news You are the character If you are the character you have the right to generate news “per se”
  23. 23. A character who wants to communicate, does communicate Branding It's a matter of communication
  24. 24. Rivalries reinforce characters Differences generate interest It's a matter of communication
  25. 25. You could be respected even if you talk about complex subjects
  26. 26. The power of overcoming difficulties Personal testimonies endorse messages and get attention
  27. 27. People identifies with challengers either “anonymous” …
  28. 28. People identifies with challengers … or with a well known name
  29. 29. The power of love A powerful Who could help any What&HoW
  30. 30. Facts are from Mars (or even Saturn), people are from Venus COLD FACTS could be boring (and/or tough) Specially if they are slow or difficult to visualize WARM PEOPLE are always interesting Don’t commit the sin of modesty, … get out of the closed, … but with something to say Much better if you are the news It's a matter of communication
  31. 31. Good casting Key factor for success Not the wiser, not the savvier … The best communicator Bosses could do well, … OR NOT Being engaged with the subject passion helps to transmit love When you are the character you have to perform
  32. 32. You know how to whistle, don’t you? Just put your lips together - and blow You are the character you have to perform Get out of the lab, out of the office Make pictures Use your hands Use what you have on hand Film what you do and film yourself Make mock-ups / do experiments Don’t be shy … a “second shot” is always an option
  33. 33. Passion for communicating Enter the hearts to get into brains Be honest, be sincere, be yourself Forget stereotypes, forget patterns Don’t imitate
  34. 34. A scientist who communicates is not doing science Communication strategies go first Avoid “Pangea’s syndrome” Lose your fear of making a fool of yourself To simplify does not imply to devaluate
  35. 35. Love&Communication is a matter of 2 Messages: Focused, clear and loudly News target audience Audience people People “level” Which is the “right level”? Very intelligent 13 years old student How science impacts his/her life and his/her community?
  36. 36. How to ride a horse Getting adapted to TV Some cooking recipes to assure success
  37. 37. Knowing “the other” - 1 TV dumb box & magic lantern A Picture's Meaning Can Express Ten Thousand Words (some of them not intentionally) … but very little ideas Communicating Science select & renounce It's a matter of … TV
  38. 38. Knowing “the other” - 2 One team, one success To participate in a TV program means to become a member of a team Accept to share your experience with what the other team members know A common objective: to succeed Your success is their success Their success is your success Journalists play on your side
  39. 39. A concept is a concept, is a concept Tangible Human scale Sizable in € Intangible Too big, too little “Invisible” Hidden Abstract It's a matter of … TV Actions Metaphors, analogies Using words (and drawings, and analogies, but they are useless without words) From concrete situations to general concepts Never the opposite
  40. 40. One idea per program Keeping focus keeping attention What matters is the result not the way not the method Transmitting knowledge is not building knowledge The way is full of traps, don’t fall into them experimental processes funny side phenomena … KEEP FOCUSED !
  41. 41. From phenomena to explanations Don’t start building by the roof Begin close to the earth, telling stories … Don’t start formulating enunciates Always go from the example to the concept from what is particular to what is general
  42. 42. You do not paint the final picture To put together the puzzle is somebody else’s role Somebody will have to summarize, better if it’s you or better you help on doing that Make the editor’s job easier and your time & effort useful: talk easy don’t use subordinates don’t use long sentences don’t use too technical words … … or explain them
  43. 43. Working with journalists If you prick them, they bleed …
  44. 44. Your team to get to “your fans” With the little help of your friends: Professionals that help you to communicate well
  45. 45. Circuit road blocks Bad communication between scientists and their Press Office Just no communication Delays The Press Office blocks the direct communication between scientist and journalists Scientist do not dedicate enough time
  46. 46. Preparing the work of the team Anticipate the news Allow the journalists to follow the process Document the steps Get permissions and image rights Prepare a clear and understandable dossier
  47. 47. … and then, the audience opens the oven …
  48. 48. We have succeeded when the people of the audience is able to explain to their neighbours and friends what they have seen “There is nothing that, being true, could not be explained with simple words” Cristian Ruiz i Altaba
  49. 49. Thanks a lot! Now it’s time to talk Jaume Vilalta <jvilalta.b@tv3.cat> Xavier Kirchner <xavier@kirchner.cat>

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