One of the most valuable things I got out of graduate school was this bit of career advice: “There’s no shortage of scientists. What we’re lacking — and what we need — are people who can actually explain this stuff and do it well.”
At first, I thought this meant we need more science writers. But really, the advice is intended for everyone. We all need to do a better job of communicating our work — it could be the key to a job, a valuable collaboration or more money and resources for your work.
So how can you communicate better? One way is to watch out for the “10 biggest pitfalls” as laid out by David Rubenson, the associate director of administration and strategic planning at Stanford’s Cancer Institute. In a recent post on the Naturejobs blog, he cites common traps such as not rehearsing your presentation and rushing through your slides.
And the number one mistake?
Thinking a collection of slides is enough
Your 50 slides may allow you to talk for 50 minutes, but that doesn’t mean you have anything to say. Always have an overarching scientific question and narrative. Slides fragment even the most coherent story, so make sure each slide supports the narrative.
Previously: Making science accessible to scientists, Free, online Stanford course on science writing opens this week and A call to fix the “crisis of communication” in science
Photo by Stanford University