17 December 2018
PRII was proud to sponsor SCI:Com for the second time this year.
Held in Dublin, 12 December, the conference brought together science communicators, researchers, academics, policymakers and communications professionals.
PRII’s involvement this year was particularly apt given the theme of Reputation. The day looked at how reputation affects success and why visibility and diversity are crucial for success in communicating science and research.
MC for the day Claire O’Connell set the tone in the morning when she said storytelling, reputation and credibility are key enablers of science communication, but the main take-aways from the day were universal not just related to the scientific world.
The inspirational Mark Pollock and Simone George talked about the issues they encounter in their work to promote awareness of and promote a cure for spinal injury, as well as giving some practical insight into how they prepared their phenomenally successful TED Talk. While Mark was refreshingly to the point when he said „No one cares about you: scientist, student, wheelchair guy, human rights lawyer.“ Audiences only care about themselves he continued, so for the communicator to be relevant they must move people to think about themselves.
Panel discussions during the day looked at reputation, the public context, and brand recognition for individual researchers as well as institutions and how social media influences reputation; as well as diversity and inclusion. Among the practical breakout sessions, one looked at how to develop a coordinated campaign around a ‘Climate Action Week’.
The show was however stolen by actor and broadcaster Alan Alda who along with Prof. Laura Lindenfeld Sher made a hushed room laugh as they detailed how they use improv acting methods, stories, and humour to enable scientists to communicate more effectively at The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University.
“Communication isn’t about the ‘best’ message, it’s about a dynamic relationship”, that changes both parties.
While emphasising how important communications is to science Alda also outlined his philosophy that “Communication isn’t me figuring out the best way to say something and then spraying it at you, it’s figuring out the best way to reach you and finding the flicker to connect with you.”
For those of you who want to hear more Alda you can listen to his Clear + Vivid podcast here