As researchers, we all are very passionate about our research and are mostly too excited to discuss our work. However, during many such discussions, we often forget that not everyone has a background on the topic we study. The “jargon” that we use falls under COIK category: clear only if known. This means the average person we are talking about our research might have never heard of topics we think are so “basic”. So, it is also our responsibility to communicate to the general public in a manner that they can easily relate to and can digest our “jargon”.
Now the question remains How to present your research to a wider and general audience? For that, we have to understand that research and communication are two different things and understanding this is fundamental to being a good communicator. As researchers, we’re constantly in search of “unknown”. For every answer, we find give rise to many more questions. In simple terms, we are “constantly” on a quest to find the next missing piece of our research puzzle.
When we communicate, especially with non-experts or the general public, the story needs to be simple, uncluttered and clean. Your audience needs to know how you’re working on the problem-set from, why you think it is important and where you’re heading to. It needs to be unambiguous and clear, with enough mystery and surprise to keep them interested.
The foremost rule of good communication is tailoring our message according to the audience. This is very important because if we’re unable to communicate our research according to audience level, our work may be misinterpreted and could lead to misunderstandings and fear. Our focus should be to engage the public in conversations about what, why and how we’re doing, and we cannot afford misunderstandings and confusion that may lead to misconceptions.
It should be remembered that your immediate target audience might not be the end user of your information. This means that you should make your messaging relevant to the end user when communicating. Think of giving an interview to a journalist as an example to ponder about the said point. If you are following this simple law, you have a good chance to reach to a wider audience.
The next big thing that you should always remember while presenting your research is that you are communicating your research and not educating the people. Communicating should not be about the exact mechanism behind things but rather on its importance, and its necessity. It is important for you to make it relevant to the audience. Well, once you have done this, you can discuss mechanism too depending upon the response.
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