We established a program to train scientists to effectively present their research to an audience of informed lay people.
One of our most progressive accomplishments made possible by Center funding was to provide our scientists, of all academic levels, hands-on training in the tactical skills needed to give effective presentations to informed public audiences. We believe this is a required core competency for scientists in both academic and industry environments. We recruited an external linguistics consultant to provide our scientists with objective measures of the information (and format) needed for successful presentations to an informed lay audience.
The training included videotaping scientists throughout the training to allow them to observe their current speech and body mannerisms, and their improvements over time. We highly recommend this approach.
We used a format similar to “TED” talks, approximately 18 minute presentations, with minimal PowerPoint, designed to transmit complex material in a clear, concise, and engaging manner. The “TED” talk training culminated in a “Three Minute Thesis” – 3MT – contest (developed by the University of Queensland in Australia) as the final, good-natured, ‘contest’ to teach our scientists to present effectively to an educated lay audience.
We are happy to disseminate the skill sheet we developed to train our scientists. If you are interested please contact jdougherty (at) systemsbiology (dot) org.