Improving Your Science Communication Skills
In today’s world, effective science communication skills are more important than ever for life scientists who want to share the importance of their research with the world. Building and maintaining trust with the general public isn’t easy in a fast-moving online media space full of fake news stories and mistruths.
So what can you do to improve your scicomm skills and learn how to communicate your work more effectively? We spoke to co-founder Allison Coffin and volunteer Owen Phillips of the Science Talk conferences, who told us about their passion for scicomm and what the upcoming 2023 conference has to offer for those who are looking to improve their science communication skills.
What is Science Talk and why was it created?
Allison: Science Talk started in 2016 with a series of conversations, all with a similar theme; science communicators who felt like they fell into the field with little training and no support network. The first conference was created to form a community for science communicators. We had no idea if anyone would show up! Turns out we filled a needed void – we sold out a month early, with 250 attendees, and our annual Science Talk conferences soon became a key event for science communicators in North America, and more recently, around the world.
Owen: This year’s event theme is ‘Giving Science a Voice’ — which is so necessary to help society tackle modern challenges with an evidence-based approach.
Why is science communication so important to you?
Allison: Because science matters in society. It impacts our daily lives. The past few years have really highlighted the centrality of science in life, in public decision making, and the dangers we face without clear and authentic communication.
Owen: I’m a former chemist who now works in communications and marketing. Sharing accurate and accessible scientific information is critical not only for scholarly pursuits, but also to drive widespread innovation, creativity, and wonder.
When and where is Science Talk ‘23 taking place?
Allison: This year, the Association of Science Communicators will be hosting their annual conference in Portland, Oregon (USA) on April 6-7, in-person, at the Tiffany Center, however there are also plenty of opportunities to participate digitally as well (beginning the week of Mar 27).
What will the event offer for those looking to improve their scicomm skills?
Owen: From stand-up comedy to science policy to a view from the red carpet, we’ll have a variety of perspectives and topics to get attendees thinking about new ways to engage with their audiences. The event is also formatted to maximize the time of those attending and provide ample opportunity to learn new skills. We’ll be running workshops on topics like Science podcasting from the page to your ears and Communicating Science to Science Skeptics, so there will be lots of great opportunities to work with fellow attendees and add to your sci-comm arsenal. Check out the agenda for a full list of speakers and activities.
What networking opportunities will be available?
Owen: Science Talk is a spectacular opportunity to meet fellow scientists and communicators, learn new things, and build your network. Those that arrive early can attend the welcome happy hour the night prior to the main event to start building their networks. There will also be plenty of workshop and networking time during the conference itself. Programming each day will also include time outside of workshops for merriment and enjoying the company of new colleagues! I'd highly recommend bringing a stack of business cards or be ready to go with a QR code and digital info!
Allison: We will also be using an integrated app which will stay live for connections and Q’s & A’s well after the conclusion of the event so attendees can follow up on burning questions or continue to add to their contacts list.
How can science communicators get more involved?
Owen: Participants are welcome to submit poster and art proposals (through March 1), which will be a great opportunity to showcase work, teach other attendees a new skill, or share your own passion projects. And if you’re interested in becoming an ASC advocate, we have a newly launched membership program, so there has never been a better time to join us for Science Talk. Science without communication is silent, so come and make some noise!
For questions or enquiries, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
More articles on scicomm from Hello Bio
For more great articles on science communication, check out these other fantastic resources available on the Hello Bio blog:
- The Importance of Science Communication - guest blog by Chinmaya Sadangi
- Improving public understanding of science - guest blog by Mann Virdie & Ella Courtie
- Engaging the Public, Patients and the Next Generation with Your Science - guest blog by Dr Chloe Thomas
- Interviews with Scientists: Renaud Poupre - video interview with scicomm expert and podcaster Renaud Poupre of The Lonely Pipette
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