April 14, 2019

Voices for Science 2019 – getting started with the take-home message

Posted by Laura Guertin

This blog is part of my journey as a member of the Voices for Science Class of 2019. You may want to start with my first post, Voices for Science 2019 – the journey begins…


The final day of our Voices for Science training had the science policy and science communication groups split into two. The science policy team was off to Capitol Hill for a series of visits (documented in tweets like the ones below), and the science communications team stayed at The Optical Society headquarters for additional instruction on using multimedia, working with the media, using audio/photo/video, using social media, and podcasting.


As with our first full day as a group, this day was filled with helpful information on how to frame our message and how to use digital tools effectively to enhance that message. For example, science photos should include people, provide scale, and show action and emotion. Audio can be excellent at invoking visuals in the mind of the listener, but it is not as good at conveying scale. Video production includes many steps, from planning to shooting to editing. And you never know where your multimedia may end up… one of AGU’s sounds was used in a story by Stephen Colbert! (watch this clip!)

Most importantly, we were led through an exercise to have us really think about making the most of multimedia. We were asked to consider why we want to use audio/photo/video for science communication? Is it to inform and educate? To humanize science? To entertain? To make a call to action? This exercise tied in very nicely to the session on sharing science with the media – start with the take-home message, ending on a positive note and with how science can be a part of the solution. When communicating science, especially with the media, we have to present the outcome at the very beginning, instead of doing the build-up like we do in journal articles and science presentations, where the research details and methods are presented before the results and conclusions.

So as science communicators, we need to think about starting with the ending!

I look forward to a full year of expanding upon my outreach and engagement activities, finding creative and collaborative ways to share science that are new to me and my audiences. Look for other members of the Voices for Science 2019 cohort and their innovative approaches to science communication and effective advocacy with science policy!