Science Storytelling Workshop Recount

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An extended PDF of the workshop with notes and examples from the in-person event can be found here for all those that wish to participate from home

Just a week before Yolo County went on the essential Shelter-In-Place lockdown to mitigate the spread of COVD-19, I was excited to lead my first workshop for Science Says. Following Colin Murphy’s jargon-free workshop in November, and the two-part Improv Workshop led by Lucas Hatton in February, this workshop was the third in our series leading up to our big Spring event, Posters in the Park. Although it appears that our big event and the final 2 workshops will be postponed for Fall, this workshop was a great success!

Inspiration and material for the beginning of this workshop was based heavily off of the exciting work of Sara ElShafie, a PhD candidate at UC Berkeley who partnered with Pixar to develop her Science Through Story workshops, one of which I attended while I was with CLEAR, a sister group to Science Says at UC Berkeley. After first going over some basic points all good stories share, we focused on refining our elevator pitches, which started some really important conversations about rewording for your audience. Participants unanimously agreed that drawing out their research was very helpful in conceptualizing their work without words, and then translating that into a description free of jargon. Questions were raised like “When do I use ‘I’ statements and ‘we’ statements since most of my work is collaborative?,” and “How much can I simplify my research if it starts to stray away from the accurate facts?”. Plus of course, we were all caught with jargon that we didn’t realize wasn’t audience friendly.

Getting feedback on something as short as an elevator pitch and speaking them out loud is the best way to improve your science communication skills. We recommend going through the full PDF of this workshop and calling or video-chatting a labmate, a friend, or a family member to work on your three elevator pitch versions. We think you’ll be surprised at how helpful outside feedback will be!


Mary Madera is a Plant Biology PhD student. For more content from the UC Davis science communication group "Science Says", follow us on Twitter @SciSays.

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