2016 AAAS S&T Policy Fellows workshop

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Enter speaker notes here.

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8 things wrong with this graph that compromise its usefulness

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Left hemisphere dominant for language and logic, while right hemisphere dominant for visual imagery. So, words and visuals synergize to enhance understanding.

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Becoming a “Jedi Writer” Dennis Meredith E-mail: dennis@glyphus.com www.ExplainingResearch.com Twitter: @ExplainResearch

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Why explain your research? Alert colleagues, collaborators Discuss implications, future directions Document credit Alert media Correct media errors Aid funding agencies Reach legislators Attract donors Engage lay public

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Employers want communicators!* Leadership Teamwork ability Communication skills (written) Problem-solving skills Communication skills (verbal) Strong work ethic Initiative Analytical/quantitative skills Technical skills *Job Outlook 2016, National Association of Colleges and Employers

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Writing: Embrace your reader

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Never let go of their hand Clear writing means leading your readers through your text and not interrupting the smooth forward progression of concepts. That would require them to backtrack, frustrating and confusing them.

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Write for the “reading eye” Parallel recognition reading model

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The plraaell rgctenooiin rdnaeig mdeol eplxnais why you can raed tihs stnecene slrsrginupiy wlel, eevn tguhohg olny the fsirt and lsat leertts of the lgnoer wdros are in oderr.

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Planar letters a,c,e,m,n,o,r,s,u,v,w,x,z Visual landmark letters b,d,f,g,h,I,j,k,l,p,q,t,y

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Why use active voice? More visual: passive verbs less readable (is, are, was, were) More engaging More dynamic

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Use “thrifty” words component clear, plain apparent part, piece abbreviate facilitate magnitude perform utilize shorten prove, show aid, enable, help size do use establish

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Choose the best word

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The difference between the almost right word & the right word is … the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.—Mark Twain

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MS Word thesaurus

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www.Thesaurus.com

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www.WordWeb.info

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www.VisualThesaurus.com

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Craft readable sentences

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What’s this simple declarative sentence doing in your proposal?

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Study: Management scientists gain prestige by unintelligible writing: 1. Positive correlation found between prestige of 10 management journals and reading difficulty. Armstrong, J. Scott, “Unintelligible Management Research and Academic Prestige,” Interfaces, April 1980

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Study: Management scientists gain prestige by unintelligible writing: 2. Asked faculty members to rate prestige of four “passages” from management journals. Held content constant, varied readability. Finding: “Those passages that were more difficult to read were rated higher in research competence.”  Armstrong, J. Scott, “Unintelligible Management Research and Academic Prestige,” Interfaces, April 1980

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So . . .

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Consider utilization of broadly comprehensive vernacular in order to alleviate cognitive load.

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i.e. . . .

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Use everyday language to be more easily understood.

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Everybody will understand this sentence.

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However, many people will not be able to understand this sentence on first reading, not just because of its structural complexity, although that is a factor, and not because the words that constitute it are necessarily difficult to grasp, but because of the number of words it contains.

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Longer sentences, less understanding: 8-word sentences 100 % 15-word sentences 90 % 28-word sentences 50 % 43-word sentences 10 % Source: “Readers’ Degree of Understanding,” American Press Institute

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Vary sentence length A combination of long sentences and short sentences serves to maintain reader interest and emphasize important ideas. Like this.

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Write hammock sentences

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More effective: The most important ideas in your sentences should come at the beginning or the end Less effective: You should put at the beginning or the end the most important ideas in your sentences.

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Put subject, verb close together

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More effective: Your sentence’s subject and verb should come close together, so that readers can easily grasp the gist of the thought. Less effective: Your sentence’s subject and verb, if readers are to easily grasp the gist of the thought, should come close together.

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Try to avoid acronyms and abbreviations (TTAAAA)

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Common ones O.K.: CDC, FAA, IBM, CIA, FBI, etc.

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Uncommon ones require readers to recall and decipher acronym.

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For example, TTAAAA

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… click here To switch on readability statistics…

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… then click here …

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…to get this box Click on Proofing

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Check here and click OK

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Flesch formula lowers score for long words

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RoboEditors: ProWritingAid ProWritingAid.com

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RoboEditors: Editor, Serenity Software Serenity-software.com

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RoboEditors: WhiteSmoke WhiteSmoke.com

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RoboEditors: Grammarly Grammarly.com

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RoboEditors: Hemingway HemingwayApp.com/desktop

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RoboEditors: Hemingway HemingwayApp.com/desktop

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Scrivener for writing long documents

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Writing tips: editorial State conclusion/action needed at top Avoid informal text-ese, emoticons Avoid jargon, techspeak, bureaucratese Avoid clichés, e.g. “think outside the box.” Proofrede, prufread, proofred But recognize you will need a proofreader

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Writing tips: political Assume every document will be public State facts, not opinions, not emotions The hotter you are, the cooler the prose Never submit a “draft”

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Writing news and features A

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Renounce Introduction Methods Results And Discussion

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Grab the reader! So what/what’s new: Significant problems? Worthwhile benefits? Needed solutions?

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Why is a good lede like a piece of chocolate?

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Grabber feature ledes Tell a story about someone involved Tell a personal story Describe the subject Describe an environment Describe a discovery moment Describe a vignette Describe a treatment (For examples, see: http://bit.ly/GFwe99)

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Hard news ledes are tight and factual. No subjective terms

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A lede tells Who What When Where Why

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Good hard news lede The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved Celgene’s drug Abraxane for use in treating advanced pancreatic cancer, supplementing the thin arsenal available to fight the disease. In a clinical trial, Abraxane prolonged the lives of patients by a little less than two months on average. Pancreatic specialists have said the drug was a welcome, if modest, advance against a disease that is extremely tough to treat. The New York Times, September 6, 2013

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Keep ‘em reading! If you get ‘em with the sentence, you’ve got ‘em for the paragraph. If you get ‘em with the paragraph, you’ve got ‘em for the page. If you get ‘em with the page, you’ve got ‘em for the article.

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Create metaphors and similes “Shotgun” synapse

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Create metaphors and similes “Anaconda” receptor

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Create metaphors and similes “Artificial dog”

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Invent scientific terms cell, nucleotide, calorie, quantum, osmosis, electron, neuron, species, seismology, bacteria, gravity, black hole, pulsar, quasar, liquid crystal, dark energy, quark, laser

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Invent scientific terms

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Use techniques of fiction

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Stories activate neural centers Paul, Annie Murphy, “Your Brain on Fiction,” New York Times, March 17, 2012

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Describe emotions

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Portray conflict

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Show rather than tell She was surprised when she saw the extent of the tumor on the MRI scan. Her eyes widened, and she gasped faintly and reached a finger out to trace the dark blotch of the surprisingly large tumor on the MRI scan.

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Describe characters The burly, balding scientist with a faded Semper Fi tattoo crouches over the field seismometer, his sweat droplets dotting the desert sand as he roundly curses the glitching instrument.

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Write for the senses

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Use dynamic quotes “Although the results came in over a period of months, after we analyzed them we knew we had a stunning discovery. When we saw the numbers from the initial Fourier analysis come up on the computer screen, we knew we had hit a physics mother lode.” “We knew we had a stunning discovery,” Quark said, and when the analysis was done, “we knew we had hit a physics mother lode.”

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Describe action Her eyes widened, and she gasped faintly and reached a finger out to trace the dark blotch of the surprisingly large tumor on the MRI scan.

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Use analogies. Examples:

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Some examples: Atoms are almost indestructible. A billion of the atoms in your body used to be part of William Shakespeare; a billion more belonged to Alexander the Great. A human being consists of as much energy as is found in the matter of 30 very large H-bombs. If an apple were enlarged to the size of the earth, a hydrogen atom on the same scale would be the size of an apple. A chunk of neutron star the size of a sugar cube weighs more than the human race.

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Use suspense

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Add suspense by: Story payoff Question answer Discovery timeline Need solution Destroy a thesis Pros and cons

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Murder your (journalistic) children Metaphor or simile that doesn’t work Technical jargon Too-complex explanation Too much detail How: Take time away from the piece Return with a ruthless editorial scalpel Listen to a good editor

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Writing op eds: strategy Use institution’s op ed service? Write ahead of event Get editorial feedback React quickly Try easiest outlet first For legislators, target local media “Syndicate” it A

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Writing op eds: content Ref to media article Provocative, interesting opinion Why reader care? One point 600-800 words! Statistics, anecdotes, examples Propose solution A

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Is blogging for you?

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Why not to blog: Takes time Makes you a public figure Could compromise advancement Outdated opinions persist Premature publication danger

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Why to blog: Teaches accessible writing style Gives instant feedback on ideas Raises professional profile Creates community Broadens contacts Documents discussions Encourages participation

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Explore blogging sites

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Explore blogging sites

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Explore blogging sites

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Explore blogging sites

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Explore blogging sites

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Explore blogging sites

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Explore blogging sites

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For an effective blog: Choose a “Goldilocks” topic Get a URL, e.g. researchexplainer.com Create a quality design Write in a “blogging voice” Make headlines, text concise Write substantive, informative posts Invite participation: polls, guest posts, etc. Market your blog

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Create effective posters (Tutorials at ExplainingResearch.com)

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A poster has pros and cons Pros: Visually engaging Doesn’t need presence Personal interaction Practice your spiel Can learn from viewers Useful back home Cons: Limited text More like an “ad” Visuals simplified Competes with refreshments

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Draft a plan (Only a guide. Will not go on poster.) Central message? So what? How you did it? Results? Conclusions? Recommendations?

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Create your poster: content Check conference requirements Usual sections: Title, Authors, Introduction, Results, Conclusions Exclude Materials & Methods, unless required Tighten, tighten, tighten, tighten, tighten ~50 words per section Use active voice, first person "We" is interesting Avoid unnecessary jargon, equations

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Make titles compelling headlines Original: Temporal/spatial vernal migration of Easter Sylvilagus floridanus with implications for maximizing procurement of Theobroma cacao-derived ovoid confections Better: We tracked the Easter bunny to get the most chocolate eggs.

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Use headlines not labels Abstract Introduction Materials and methods Results Conclusions

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Use headlines not labels Satellite Tracking of Easter Bunny Yields More Eggs Introduction Materials and methods Results Conclusions

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Use headlines not labels Satellite Tracking of Easter Bunny Yields New Insight In Three Centuries, Easter Bunny has Never Been Tracked Materials and methods Results Conclusions

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Use headlines not labels Satellite Tracking of Easter Bunny Yields New Insight In Three Centuries, Easter Bunny has Never Been Tracked We used Real-Time DigitalGlobe Satellite Imagery to Detect Egg-Hiding Results Conclusions

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Use headlines not labels Satellite Tracking of Easter Bunny Yields New Insight In Three Centuries, Easter Bunny has Never Been Tracked We used Real-Time DigitalGlobe Satellite Imagery to Detect Egg-Hiding High Accuracy Enabled us to Pinpoint Significantly More Eggs Conclusions

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Use headlines not labels Satellite Tracking of Easter Bunny Yields New Insight In Three Centuries, Easter Bunny has Never Been Tracked We used Real-Time DigitalGlobe Satellite Imagery to Detect Egg-Hiding High Accuracy Enabled us to Pinpoint Significantly More Eggs Satellite Tracking is a Great Way to Get More Eggs

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Create your poster: layout Create or steal one you like Use light background, dark text Use simple colors as guide; not garish ones Use columns: people read top to bottom, left to right Left justify text, but not right justify Use serif font text (~24 pt) Use sans serif headlines (~36 point) Use text and image size to establish hierarchy and organizational cues:

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Good hierarchy Source: Hess, et al, Creating Effective Poster Presentations

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Bad hierarchy

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Overcome the crowd This is the compelling headline of my poster This is the really cool conclusion that I want people to see over the heads of any crowd that gathers around. The methods I used This tells all about how we did these experiments but you can’t read it becaisd theuiguy’s head is in the way This is my introduction This is a critical part of the poster but this guy is in the way so you can’t read it unless you elbow yourself to the front of the crowd. Details and other stuff But this lady’s head is in the way, so you can only read part of the final conclusion of the paper

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Create your poster: visuals Simplify graphs, charts Don’t use keys. Write labels on figures Use different background or box to make figures stand out Do you have a cool image?

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. . . like this one?

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Offer further information: Print: handouts, postcards, bookmarks A Web link: Get a memorable URL and redirect. Use caps to make reading easier, e.g. www.ExplainingResearch.com Use a shortener, e.g. http://bit.ly/4uIwcB Be careful of misread text, e.g. www.whorepresents.com

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For further information: Display a QR Code: link to poster pdf, presentation slides, web site, etc.

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Infographics: Venngage

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Infographics: Venngage

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Infographics: Venngage

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Give Compelling Talks! Dennis Meredith E-mail: dennis@glyphus.com www.ExplainingResearch.com Twitter: @ExplainResearch

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Exercise: What adjectives do you think the public would use in describing scientists?

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Americans trust: Military (91%) Scientists (89%) Physicians (89%) Educators (82%) Supreme Court (81%) *NSF Science and Engineering Indicators 2014

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Less trust in: Banks (60%) Press (52%) Congress (50%)

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Most prestigious occupations: Firefighters (62%) Scientists (57%) Doctors (56%) Nurses (54%) Teachers (51%) Military officers (51%) *Harris Poll, 2009

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Contribute “a lot” to society: Military (78%) Teachers (72%) Physicians (66%) Scientists (65%) Engineers (63%) Clergy (37%) *Pew Research Center Survey, 2013

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Reach your audiences

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Reach your audiences

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You compete with the world

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Exercise: What have you thought about in the last 30 minutes that had nothing to do with this workshop? You compete with life

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A lay audience is not a class

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A talk is not a paper Paper: Explanations read Self-paced Non-interactive Sufficient text Points can be complex High-res visuals Talk: Explanations heard Speaker-paced Interactive Limited text Points must be simpler Lower-res visuals

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Your audience is primates

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Not a valid model

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Who are your audiences? Other scientists

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Who are your audiences? Donors

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Who are your audiences? Administrators

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Who are your audiences? Students

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Who are your audiences? News media

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Who are your audiences? Legislators

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Different audiences, different needs

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Economy Security Environment Education Freedom/Values Why important to: Source: Francis Slakey

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Ask up front Don’t whine Be concise! State problem Propose solution Why important? Why now? When presenting to Congress: A

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Share the glory Send public kudos Help get publicity Continue contacts Immerse them Tell useful stories Cultivating Congress: A

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Who are your audiences? Non-English Speakers

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Why explain your research? Alert colleagues, collaborators Discuss implications, future directions Document credit Alert media Correct media errors Aid funding agencies Reach legislators Attract donors Engage lay public

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Why explain your research? Beware colleagues, collaborators Discuss implications, future directions Document credit Beware media Correct media errors Aid funding agencies Reach legislators Attract donors Engage lay public

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Renounce Introduction Methods Results And Discussion

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Grab your audience So what/what’s new: Significant problems? Worthwhile benefits? Needed solutions?

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This is a boring opening slide Dennis Meredith E-mail: dennis@glyphus.com www.ExplainingResearch.com

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This is not a boring opening slide Dennis Meredith E-mail: dennis@glyphus.com www.ExplainingResearch.com Twitter: @ExplainResearch

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February 27-March 3, 2011 – San Diego, California An Estimate of the Volumes of Potentially Toxic Materials in Obsolete TVs Stored by US Households Based on a National Survey

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I’m an obsolete TV set, perhaps sitting in your attic, basement, or spare room.

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I’m a CRT model containing toxic materials like lead, cadmium, antimony, copper, zinc, and flame retardants.

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Currently, only 18 percent of sets like me are recycled.

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How many millions of me are there in U.S. households?

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How many tons of toxic materials do all these sets contain?

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Nobody knows.

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So, we conducted a national survey to try to find out.

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Save your file as PowerPoint show to start quickly

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Why is a good opening like a piece of chocolate?

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Remember: Stories activate neural centers Paul, Annie Murphy, “Your Brain on Fiction,” New York Times, March 17, 2012

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I need someone well versed in the art of torture. Do you know ? Powerpoint

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Optimize your text

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This is 48 point type This is 44 point type This is 40 point type This is 36 point type This is 28 point type This is 24 point type This is 18 point type This is 14 point type This is 12 point type

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ALL CAPS ARE CONSIDERED TO BE SHOUTING AND ARE HARDER TO READ. Instead use sentence case, which is easier to read, because it gives the reading eye “landmarks.”

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This is Times New Roman This is Calibri This is Century This is Verdana This is Garamond This is Arial This is ridiculous

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For dark rooms, I like light text on a dark background: Reduces glare Text stands out more than the background

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Hazards of being textual mega

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Short Text OK For talking points Reads quickly 4-7 bullet points

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But longer text creates a logical problem and a distraction: logically It is unnecessary for me to read this text to you, because you’re perfectly capable of reading it yourself. Right?

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On the other hand, if I’m saying something else while you’re trying to read a substantive amount of text on a screen, there’s a perceptual left-brain overload that compromises communication.

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If you keep your slide simple you will find that it is more digestible by audiences and much more memorable than if you clutter it with extraneous text and images that do not contribute to your point.

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If you keep your slide simple you will find that it is more digestible by audiences and much more memorable than if you clutter it with extraneous text and images that do not contribute to your point.

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Short bullets: Make slides friendlier Improve pace Create suspense Enhance your preparation

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Use headlines not labels Grab audience Tell point of slide Heard and seen

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Florida “West Indian” manatee

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Manatee extinction likely without additional protection

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Pancreatic cancer liver metastasis

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Pancreatic cancer spreads rapidly to the liver

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Effective text slides have: Editorial headline Short bullets About 4-7 points per slide Sans serif font, not serif like this 28 point font minimum 40-word limit A

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cow Hereford Holstein bovine steer Bos taurus Jersey Charolaise bull

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Not: “Say cow, see ” cows

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Rather: “How now brown cows”

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“Washington, G. and Jefferson, T. “Very important research paper,” Top Sci Jrnl, Vol. 400, No. 4, November 8, 2016 This is the Y axis in Percent Too much “non-data ink”

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This is a headline that makes the point “Washington, G. and Jefferson, T. “Very important research paper,” Top Sci Jrnl, Vol. 400, No. 4, November 8, 2016

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Effective visual slides guide the eye A

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This is a headline that makes the point “Washington, G. and Jefferson, T. “Very important research paper,” Top Sci Jrnl, Vol. 400, No. 4, November 8, 2016

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This is a headline that makes the point “Washington, G. and Jefferson, T. “Very important research paper,” Top Sci Jrnl, Vol. 400, No. 4, November 8, 2016

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This is a headline that makes the point “Washington, G. and Jefferson, T. “Very important research paper,” Top Sci Jrnl, Vol. 400, No. 4, November 8, 2016

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This is a headline that makes the point “Washington, G. and Jefferson, T. “Very important research paper,” Top Sci Jrnl, Vol. 400, No. 4, November 8, 2016

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This is a headline that makes the point “Washington, G. and Jefferson, T. “Very important research paper,” Top Sci Jrnl, Vol. 400, No. 4, November 8, 2016

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Credit: Luc Benard “Eye candy” is useful

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Credit: Luc Benard

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Many Image Sources: www.ExplainingResearch.com

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Free stock shots

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Free stock shots

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Paid stock shots

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Paid stock shots

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Paid stock shots

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Paid stock shots

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Paid stock shots

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Paid stock shots

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Free video

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Credit: Felice Frankel, from Envisioning Science Creating visuals is not hard

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www.ExplainingResearch.com Tools for informative visuals:

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Slides are customizable

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Bcl-xL PUMA p53 Mitochondrial outer membrane Apoptosis BAX BAX MOMP Stress-induced Apoptosis; Roles of PUMA, BCL-xL and p53 Mitochondrial Outer Membrane (MOM) Chipuk, et al., Science, 303:1010-4 (2004); ibid., 309:1732-5 (2005). Stress (e.g., DNA damage) p53 Bcl-xL Importantly, PUMA is the only BH3-only protein that activates cytoplasmic p53 How does BCL-xL bind to p53? How does PUMA uniquely unleash the pro-apoptotic activity of cytoplasmic p53?

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Informative animated GIFs

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Informative animated GIFs Polyview-3D

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Informative animated GIFs GIPHY

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PhotoFunia.com

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Worth1000.com: Nerdimals

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Newspaper clippings, etc.

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Newspaper clippings, etc.

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Many science video outlets

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Demos & Pass-Arounds

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Demos & Pass-Arounds

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The most important visual in my presentation is… (Hints: it is 3D, animated, programmable, adaptive, biological, chemically powered)

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Me

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To become an effective “visual”: Free yourself from the three shackles! Move purposefully Be enthusiastic Make eye contact Interfere with the screen Neglect the screen Don’t protect your organs Gesture effectively . . . A

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. . . and pause

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Why I hate laser pointers: Distractingly twitchy Temporary indicator Substitute for good slide design Puts you out of the picture “Distances” you from your data Attracts eye to pointer not point

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If you must read: Use visual vernacular Write to speak Phrase memorably Recite out loud Gesture for emphasis Eye contact on major points Vary cadence, emphasis Inject energy A

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Ask the toughest critics you know to critique your talk!

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Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice

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Share Your presentation

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Source: Why Most PowerPoint Presentations Suck, by Rick Altman

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Visual Strategies by Felice Frankel and Angela DePace

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Blog: MarketingforScientists.com

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Working with the media Dennis Meredith E-mail: dennis@glyphus.com www.ExplainingResearch.com Twitter: @ExplainResearch

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Giving a Good Interview

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Reporters: Scientists’ communication sins: Lack of communication training Reliance on jargon Complex explanations Not giving news peg, significance Ignoring deadlines, immediacy Failing to prepare for interviews Failing to provide visuals

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Grab the reporter So what/what’s new: Significant problems? Worthwhile benefits? Needed solutions?

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A good interview has: Grabber beginning Compelling “so-what?” Pithy, prepared quotes Vivid metaphors and similes Engaging stories Quality visuals A

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To give an effective interview: Give the reporter background Answer your questions Speak deliberately Give credit and document Distinguish fact, opinion Emphasize caveats Follow-up with email A

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The media filter your work

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U.S. networks don’t cover science news: U.S. Foreign Affairs (15%) Health & Medicine (8%) Crime (6%) Government (5%) Science (2%) *Pew State of the Media, 2008

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Source: Pew Research Center

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Source: Pew Research Center

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News releases make you a news outlet! PIO distribution reaches public Funding agency disseminates Journal distributes Department, school web site Your web site Video syndication sites (YouTube, etc.) EurekAlert! (Also reaches Google News)

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You are a news outlet!

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You are a news outlet!

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News releases serve many purposes Statement of record Explains implications Useful for administrators An investment Background material Ammunition for funding agency Alert colleagues, collaborators Media alert

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Work with Your PIO See www.WorkingWithPIOs.com

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What PIOs can do for you: Write and distribute news releases Pitch feature stories Provide photos, video, social media Clipping service Journalist briefing, strategy Communication coach Crisis communication manager

Summary: November 8, 2016, AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellows writing and presentation workshop

Tags: presentations writing