It is not a surprise that generally the most prominent scientists are also effective communicators; they know how to verbalise a vision, focus a level headed discussion and cut to the essence of an argument.
NEPAD SANBio recently organized a science communication workshop for its Student Ambassadors on the 23 February 2017. The gist of the training was to prepare the SANBio Student Ambassadors for our daily activities of creating awareness of SANBio and biosciences in their respective countries and the region at large. Good science communication helps create a clear, concise understanding and creates awareness of contemporary research, funding, collaboration opportunities.
The course was interactive, and the Student Ambassadors were given the opportunity to discuss, design and pitch their stories and later on give feedback to fellow Student Ambassadors. An emphasis was placed on building an online presence and how to perfect online communication. The Student Ambassadors were also given a chance to come up with a science communication plan of action for their international activities.
“The workshop highlighted the importance of sharing scientific knowledge at different platform and how the focus on the type of target audiences is crucial in telling the story better. The most common problems arising from communicating scientific information is the use of ‘weasel words’ and jargon that limits the audience to just the scientific community, which subsequently causes losing audience from other fields, including potential funders, collaborators and partners,” remarked Hatago ≠Aibate Stuurmann, the SANBio Student Ambassador for Namibia.
Joyce Fati Masvaya, the SANBio Student Ambassador for Zimbabwe, thinks along the same lines: “The course opened my mind and made me realize that before communicating, it is essential to understand my audiences and the platforms they pay attention to, consequently helping me to choose the right vocabulary for the right audience. It’s of no use to use jargon when communicating to the general public because it can be hard for them to understand unless explained. Thus we should always make sure that the primary reasons of communication which are to make or maintain relationships, to share or receive information, and to persuade the audience are met. I am not ashamed to say I am completely a different communicator after this training.”
NEPAD SANBio believes it is crucial for scientists to be able to communicate effectively in order to create awareness, raise funding, collaborate more efficiently, and make their arguments understood when advising policy makers; in essence, making an impact on society starts with making an impact on people.