Describing your work in neutral and objective terms is a given with scientific or academic papers and presentations. However, it’s not an effective communication strategy for a non-expert audience. With today’s policy in various fields determined by non-scientists, clearly communicating research results is more vital than ever.
How can you train yourself out of the science talk and academic voice that you were taught to use?
Below, you’ll find helpful tips on communicating your research ideas and findings clearly and efficiently to a general audience with limited scientific knowledge.
5 Effective Communication Strategies - Get Non-Expert Audiences Understand Research Findings
1.Avoid Excessive Jargon
With research and scientific information, jargon and niched tech terms are the main barriers to making non-expert audiences understand your work. Yet, avoiding jargon altogether isn’t always an option because your research’s whole concept and idea wouldn’t make sense.
Tip: if you need to use jargon, define terms the first time you mention them, use simple, common terminology, or make analogies your audience can understand or relate to.
By defining the term at its first mention, you can use it throughout the rest of the paper or presentation without oversimplifying your communication or giving additional explanations
2. Understand and Know Your Audience
Many times, non-experts need help understanding the practical implications of scientific research. Before preparing all the specific details for your research paper or talk, ensure you know your target audience. Consider their age, educational background, interests, and how well they know your field.
Tip: tailor your message to resonate with your audience. Explicitly highlight the real-world use case and benefit of your work. Connect your findings with specific pain points your audience can relate to so you can prove your research’s relevance and potential impact (these can be current social or economic events or debates).
By illustrating the practical applications, you engage non-experts, help them get a broader view, and understand the significance of your work.
3. State the Purpose of Your Research Early
While having an introduction is important, try to make it shorter or more generic. This way, you can keep your audience engaged, and it helps you better define and clarify your communication approach.
Break your information into small and clear chunks with a logical flow so your non-expert audience won’t get lost in too many details at once.
Solution: include an effective elevator speech to convey the significance and relevance of your research.
The elevator speech (or pitch) should cover the following:
- one or two sentences about your research with enticing details for both expert and non-expert audiences (mention the most important issue or idea of your research);
- three to five concise sentences that explain the general topic and nature of your research, keeping jargon at a minimum;
- in the end, include one or two sentences that connect your research to the essential issue you led off with, and describe what you’ll be working on next.
4. Use the Storytelling Technique
People are naturally drawn to stories, and they’re also easy to remember. By using stories, you’ll cut through all the clutter of science speaking and connect with the audience personally and emotionally.
Shift your mindset and think like a casual writer or journalist instead of a science writer. You don’t have to invent something new; simply build a narrative highlighting the steps in your investigation, your challenges, and your final discoveries.
Tip: don’t be afraid to include intriguing details like:
- funny incidents or episodes that you faced throughout your journey (humor is always a nice touch that helps you draw public interest);
- going through a conflict or fierce competition, and your approach to overcoming it.
5. Include Visuals to Enhance Understanding
Our brains put a high value on visuals. According to The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual.
Simplify your message and combine scientific details with appealing visuals, whether these are graphs, charts, diagrams, or anything you believe fits best. This will help you keep your non-expert audience’s interest and will also grasp the main points quickly and easily.
Tip: with written papers, ensure your visuals are clear, well-labeled, and provide enough explanations of your research insights.
You can also share your research paper or presentation with a non-expert and ask for constructive feedback. You’ll get a fresh perspective and see exactly how and what they understand from your findings.
Effectively communicating your research to non-experts is an essential aspect of sharing knowledge and expanding the reach of your work. Keep in mind the tactics and tips from above, and you’ll successfully bridge the gap between complex research and simple and effective communication.
If you want to check some clear examples, look at the research articles and papers published on Orvium. You can see what other like-minded researchers are writing and how they’ve put together their ideas.
Even more, thanks to our built-in tools for self-publishing, you can use Orvium to spread the word about your discoveries. You can also seize the option for expert reviews from peers in your field through open peer review functionality.
For more details about our platform, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, or Instagram. You’ll get all the details on how Orvium can help you with scientific research collaboration, transparency, and accountability.