Week 2: Crafting Your Message (Self-Guided)

Welcome to Week 2 of the self-guided SciFund Challenge Outreach class! This week, we’re focussing on messaging. How do we craft a clear and compelling message about our science? How can we do that while keeping our target audience and our outreach goal in mind? These questions are at the center of everything we do in science communication, no matter what it is you are communicating:

  • Science outreach? Effective messaging critical!
  • Scholarly publication? Effective messaging critical!
  • Colleague interaction?Effective messaging especially critical!

In Week 1, we asked you to think of an outreach goal and then listen to an audience related to that goal. Now that you have some sense what people in your audience are thinking about, you have a better view of how to craft your message.

And this week we will work on crafting that message.

The center of this week is a communications technique called the Message Box. This technique was developed by COMPASS, a fantastic organization that provides communication training to scientists. I (Jai Ranganathan) can tell you from personal experience that their training workshops are incredible. Nancy Baron, the Director of Science Outreach for COMPASS, has written an amazing science outreach book,  Escape from the Ivory Tower, from which we’ll be reading a chapter this week (Chapter 8: Deliver a Clear Message). Participants in our live online class get the book chapter as part of the course, but you will need to obtain the chapter on your own (do yourself a favor and buy the book).

If you really can’t get access to the book chapter, a summary of the ideas in the chapter are given in a recent article in Nature. The article, which is an interview with Nancy Baron, discusses the general concepts of the Message Box within the context of crafting a so-called “elevator speech”.

So, let’s get started. One last thing: similarly to last week, the Assignments section summarizes what you will actually need to do this week.

Part 1: Understanding Science Communication

Part 2: Using the Message Box

Part 3: Week 2 Assignments