From Geek to Plain Speak
Your Research Matters. Do the Right People Know?
From Geek to Plain Speak is a science communication workshop designed to teach scientists, researchers and engineers how to write about and present their research to non-technical audiences.
The mission of explaining scientific research to the public has never been more important, but perhaps only a few colleagues or experts in your field understand what you do. Our workshops are designed to help you reach out to a broad audience, and explain not just what your research is all about, but most importantly, why it matters.
We customize the experience for your team
Do you work with a team of talented scientists or researchers who want to improve their communication skills? We customize the learning experience to meet your goals and time constraints and we’ll travel to your location to teach you how to build your communication skills.
What you will learn
Our workshops are designed to help you:
Your STORYTELLING TOOLKIT
We work with your organization to:
- Find the “story” in your research
- Transform technical processes and details into accessible information
- Engage and inform your audience
- Tell a compelling story anyone can understand
Sample Workshop Formats:
Two-hour Teaching Session
A science journalist presents an overview of the best narrative tools, demonstrates why science needs a story, and shows you how to transform your work from a technical concept into a compelling audience-friendly story for a presentation, website, magazine, or newsletter. They will define how journalists identify newsworthy topics and create interest in scientific stories. Specifically, the presentation will include a case study illustrating how a science finding was transformed into a story for a general audience.
Half Day Hands-On Workshop
Part lecture, part hands-on exercises, this workshop begins with a presentation that introduces the group to a variety of strategies to structure a science story in order to create interest. The participants then split into groups to select and sample one of the strategies to create a “lede”—a compelling, provocative opening for their own science stories. The workshop concludes with a presentation and feedback session where a volunteer from each group reads their lede and receives insights and editing advice from the workshop leaders.
Extended Hands-on Workshops
1. How to Craft an Evocative Spoken-word Presentation
We coach participants through the process of creating a “Ted-Talk-style” presentation about a noteworthy aspect of their work. Participants will receive one-on-one tutoring to:
- help them focus on a worthwhile topic
- help them to articulate complex scientific processes in accessible language
- and show them how to use journalistic techniques to tell a story
Then, each participant will deliver a 3-minute talk that a non-scientific audience will find illuminating and memorable.
2. “Science Writers Have Talent!” Competition
This is a fun way to encourage scientists to create a presentation discussing an interesting aspect of their research using a game-show model—something like America’s Got Talent. This competition turns the writing into a performance event.
We use the same approach as we do in the spoken-word presentation — coaching participants off-site, one-on-one, in preparation for a speaking competition. We provide a panel of three judges (writers and editors of science journalism) who respond after each presentation with helpful critiques of the talk. After the presentations are complete, a winner is announced.
Kate Burak, Director of the Writing Program at Boston University, College of Communication
Kate has taught writing to students at every level from undergraduate beginners to post docs and active research scientists. Prior to teaching at Boston University she taught technical communication at UMass Amherst and North Carolina State University, and is the author of “Writing in the Works,” a practical guide to real-world writing for students.
We match our science communication experts to meet your needs.
Martin La Monica, Deputy Editor and Environment + Energy Editor, The Conversation
Martin La Monica has worked as a journalist for nearly 30 years as a reporter, editor and news manager. He is currently the Deputy Editor and Environment & Energy Editor at The Conversation, a news analysis site written by academics. His writing has been published in many publications, including The Boston Globe, MIT Technology Review, Scientific American and The Guardian.
Maggie Villiger, Science + Technology Editor, The Conversation
Maggie Villiger joined The Conversation US as Senior Science + Technology Editor just prior to its launch in Fall 2014. The news analysis website features content written by academic experts, and is edited by journalists and aimed at the general public. She has a background in broadcast journalism, having worked in both public radio (NPR’s environmental news program Living on Earth) and television (multiple PBS shows, including Scientific American Frontiers). She holds a B.A. in Neuroscience from Amherst College and an M.A. in Science Journalism from Boston University.
Tinker Ready is an award-winning multimedia journalist who covers health, science and general news.
She currently writes about quality of care issues for Health Leaders Media –a publication for hospital and health system administrators. Her work has appeared in Fast Company, Nature Medicine, Utne, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Boston Phoenix and The News & Observer and Parents, among others.