Engaging audiences in science
On Monday Alysha joined an online audience for a seminar with fantastic female science communicators, Linden Ashcroft, Kylie Quinn and Catherine Healy. Chaired by science communication champion Jen Martin (Melbourne University), the panel discussed why we need science communication, the parallels between COVID19 communication and climate change communication, and how understanding your audience and developing their trust is important. Watch the online seminar here.
Why we need science communication is becoming increasingly obvious. The pandemic has shown the importance of accuracy and transparency in communication, so that as a community we can efficiently solve problems with science. The pandemic demonstrates a reactive response to an immediate problem. But we must consider applying these same communication principles to an immediate and long-term problem, climate change.
Understanding your audience
- Make the information relevant for each audience group.
- There are many diverse audiences, each needing a different, tailored communication response.
- Understand the audiences’ fears and consider what they really need to know.
Audience understanding of the scientific process
- The pandemic has offered people a rare, live insight into the scientific process. The coverage and communication of the pandemic show that decisions are made and adapted as new research comes to light.
- This transparency in research is important in gaining audience trust.
- The audience must trust the messenger.
- The person delivering the science must build and develop this trust, to inspire people to take the necessary action.
- Target people with whom you can gain trust; there will always be a minority who won’t change their ways.
- Show your audience that you are authentic, while being professional.
- Demonstrate that you are human; allow yourself to be vulnerable.