Internet notebook about my work: deep listening to facilitate positive change


Saturday, 25 September 2010

Communicating science

"...communication is not just one element in the struggle to make science relevant. It is the central element. Because if you gather scientific knowledge but are unable to convey it to others in a correct and compelling form, you might as well not even have bothered to gather the information.” This quote comes from the latest publication of marine biologist and film maker Randy Olsen: ‘Don’t be such a scientist: talking substance in an age of style’, Island Press 2009. In this book Olsen argues that scientists should pay more attention to how they communicate their work. They should focus not only on substance or content, but much more on the style of communication. As a professor in marine biology, Olsen had gained a reputation on a range of conservation issues. But only as a film maker he learned that information, facts and figures do not speak for themselves. At least when you are not teaching students or talking to your peers. Olsen explains how human psychology basically works. In the matrix I present my personal summary of his explanation. To get people – non-experts – to listen to your research or project findings, you have to first stimulate curiosity in them. You do that not through content but through style: humor, spontaneity, personal stories and messages. Only after you have ‘aroused’ your audience they are open for the content. Or in Olsen’s words: “When it comes to connecting with the entire audience you have four bodily organs that are important: your head, your heart, your gut, and your sex organs. The object is to move the process down out of your head, into your heart with sincerity, into your gut with humor, and , ideally if you’re sexy enough, into your lower organs with sex appeal.“

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