27 October 2015
By Rebecca Fowler
Scientists are increasingly encouraged to share the meaning and implications of their research with non-scientists. And, as many who have attempted this endeavor at a party or a Thanksgiving dinner table know, talking about scientific research with those outside your field is difficult. Yet, it can be fun and rewarding.
Being able to convey the details and importance of your work can help to boost public support for science, enhance your career prospects and improve your chances of finding funding. Communication is a skill not typically taught as part of scientific training, but training and practice can help you communicate more effectively.
Ignite@AGU is one such opportunity for researchers to hone their communication skills and become more comfortable talking about their work with diverse audiences. Similar to a TED talk, Ignite gives presenters just five minutes and 20 auto-advancing slides to make their point.
“Giving an Ignite talk helped me build confidence in public speaking, share my passion for Earth science with others and be entertained by amazing presentations while in the comfort of a San Francisco bar,” said Emily Kislik, Center Lead for NASA’s DEVELOP National Program at NASA Ames Research Center. “I have incorporated many Ignite techniques in the talks I give today, and my ability to communicate science to a diverse audience has greatly improved because of it.”
On the evening of Wednesday, 16 December, ten scientists from across Earth and space science disciplines will come together at a San Francisco bar to enlighten and entertain an audience of several hundred people with stories about their scientific endeavors during the 2015 AGU Fall Meeting.
You could be one of these ten speakers.
We’re looking for researchers who are interested in giving creative and compelling talks at this low-stress, informal science storytelling event. You can cover any science-related topic, from fieldwork failures to a love of laboring in the lab, but you have to do so in five minutes with just 20 slides. Anyone attending the Fall Meeting is welcome to pitch a story; past speakers include graduate students and senior-level researchers, as well as science journalists and educators.
Lawrence Friedl, Director of the NASA Applied Sciences Program, said, “I really encourage people to try giving an Ignite talk. You have to approach the presentation in a somewhat different way, and so you get to break some rules and conventions. It’s not just a condensed version of your AGU talk. Also, the audience is so supportive, welcoming and positive, and perhaps a bit tipsy, that it’s such a great experience.”
If you’re interested in giving a talk at Ignite, pitch us your talk idea by 2 November, 2015. Those selected to present at Ignite will receive assistance composing their talk and slides, and five minutes of fame on a San Francisco stage.
If you’d prefer to listen to stories about science, join us as an audience member to support and learn from your colleagues.
Ignite@AGU is on Wednesday, 16 December from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Infusion Lounge, 124 Ellis Street, just a short walk from the Moscone Center. Ignite is free to attend and open to all.
Rebecca Fowler is the Communications and Outreach Director at the Foundation for Earth Science in Boulder, Colo. Ignite@AGU is sponsored by NASA’s Applied Sciences Program and held in partnership with the Federation of Earth Science Information Partners and AGU’s Earth and Space Science Informatics Section.