Science Communication

Science Communication

Contents

Course Dates & Time

Session 1 Resources –   Class Goals and Expectations

Session 2 Resources – Hero’s Journey

Session 3 Resources – Singular Narrative

Session 4 Resources – Inner & Outer Circle

Session 5 Resources – Importance of Listening

Session 6 Resources – Oral Presentations – Meetings, talks, seminars

Session 7 Resources – Writing Winning Proposals

Session 8 Resources – How to Be a Good Reviewer

Session 9 Resources – Topics Not Covered!

 


Course Dates & Time 

Time: Wednesdays 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM Eastern Time

Course Meeting Dates

8/31, 9/14, 9/21, 10/12, 10/19, 10/26, 11/2, 11/16, 11/30


Session 1 Resources – Class Goals & Expectations

The AAAS ABT Framework Video:

 

Additional Information:

 

Randy Olson’s books can be found here.  The original Narrative Gym will be required reading for this course.

 

Clear and effective communication without obfuscation

 

Background – Optional reading and watching before class 2:


Session 2 Resources – Hero’s Journey

Matthew Winkler Video: What makes a hero:

 

Kurt Vonnegut on the Shapes of Stories:

 

Narrative Blitz – You Gotta Tell Your OWN Story! – Dr. Shirley Malcom:

 

Narrative Blitz – The Three Forces of Narrative – Brian Palermo:

 

Narrative Blitz – The Dunning-Kruger Curve – Michael Barthelmes:

 

How to structure your – paper, proposal, presentation – It is all the same!

 

Read before class and we will go over in class:

  • Three Forms of the ABT – It’s recommended you read this excerpt from Houston, We Have a Narrative and get an understanding of the cABT (Conversational ABT).
  • The ABT Tools Cheat Sheet – Keep this with you throughout the class.  It’s a summary of all the tools we will go over.  Check off when you understand each of these as we go along.  We can circle back to any of them if you feel confused.

 

Exercise #1: The 5 Word Problem
Come to class prepared to share this ABT.
Send to Dianna before class and then revise after class and send again!

“What’s the problem?” is the most common question asked when building ABTs. For this exercise, try to finish this sentence “The problem is _____” and use only 5 additional words.

Examples: The problem is bad resource management.

The problem is the old method doesn’t work.

The problem is we have bad data.

Stripping down your problem to just 5 words can help you clarify what your narrative is actually all about and focus in on the real problem that you want to address.

 

Habits of effective writers:


Session 3 Resources – Singular Narrative

The One Thing:

Narrative Blitz – The One Thing – Rick Nelson:

Narrative Blitz – The Narrative Christmas Tree – Dr. Keisha Bahr:

Narrative Blitz – Julie Claussen – The Dobzhansky Template:

 

Download:  The ABT 3 Step Model (aka the ABT Blue Card)

 

Extra references that illustrate the importance of the Singular Narrative:

 

Singular narrative does not mean always simple!
Required reading:

  • ‘Data-Driven’ Campaigns Are Killing the Democratic Party  – The article in which Dave Gold coined the term “Christmas Tree” when looking for an overarching problem.  It’s okay to have several problems in your narrative, but you need to find the overarching Christmas Tree problem for your narrative that all the other problems can hang off of it like ornaments.
  •  Oprah’s Golden Globes Speech – A great example of using Nested ABTs.  Color coded in the ABT format.

 

Exercise #2: Using the Dobzhansky Template to find your “One Thing.”

Restructure your ABT in the form of a Dobzhansky Template to help you find your singular narrative.  This is an excellent tool to use during Step 1 of the ABT Blue Card.  

Send to Dianna before class and then revise after class and send again!

 Dobzhansky Template: Nothing in _______ makes sense, except in the light of ________.

Examples: Nothing in biology makes sense, except in the light of evolution.

Nothing in geology makes sense, except in the light of plate tectonics.

Nothing in the management of mule deer makes sense except in the light of correctly estimating abundance.

Nothing in the challenge of teaching human anatomy makes sense except in the light of time management.


Session 4 Resources – Inner & Outer Circle

Inner and outer circle – differences in what you can get away with:

Most papers, presentations, proposals must assume you are speaking to the outer circle.

 

Narrative Blitz – The Two Audiences – Dr. Nancy Knowlton:

 

Narrative Blitz – Obfuscation Nation – Mike Backes:

 

Read:

 

Exercise #3: cABT – Starting from simplicity

What is the converstational cABT version of your ABT? Prepare your cABT ahead of time.

Send to Dianna before class and then revise after class and send again!

The cABT should have all specifics stripped off of it. Use nothing but generic words, like “thing” and “stuff.” For example, if your ABT dealt with a new way to clean junk from the ocean that’s an improvement and the old system is outdated, the cABT would be “We had a thing we were using for a while, but it’s not working that great, so now we want to use a better thing.”

See? We can’t tell that you’re working on cleaning the environment. You could just as well be telling me that you’re implementing a new accounting system at your bank for all we know. That makes it a good cABT.

This exercise is important in making sure you have an easily understood base narrative, that you really know what the narrative core of your ABT is all about.  And then from the base cABT, you can start adding specifics again when constructing your kABT.

 

Exercise #4 – “This is a story of…” – Processes – Ultimate & Proximate

This is another exercise go over before class.

Send to Dianna before class and then revise after class and send again!

For this exercise, tell us what your ABT is about by finishing this sentence and using only 3 additional words “This is a story of____.”

It seems simple, but this exercise is tricky because participants tend to focus on the subject. But stories need more than a subject, they need action.  Processes are where you find that action. Common processes for ABTs could include adapting, managing, protecting, restoring, strategizing, educating.

Examples:

  • Protecting a species
  • Strategizing building restoration
  • Managing conservation efforts
  • Restoring wildlife
  • Adapting to change
  • Educating our stakeholders

Look at this example ABT:

Congressional funding is a key requirement for the continuation of important aviation research, and we know that our research allows us to be better able to manage our wildlife habitats and protect endangered species. But program managers don’t feel confident about securing future funding because some research areas are not receiving enough attention. Therefore, we need to effectively promote the proven success in these research areas to secure future funding.

When asked to complete the sentence “This is a story of____,” a possibility is “This is a story of aviation research.” But this is just the subject and it doesn’t tell us what action is taking place in this story.

Instead of the subject (aviation research), focus on the process. If you wanted the process for the broader story, the Ultimate Goal, then the process might be “secure,” since ultimately the purpose is to secure the future funds. “This is a story of securing future funding.”

“Securing future funding” is the Ultimate Goal, but you can take it down to a narrower level by focusing on the specific process, the Proximate Goal, you want to go through to get that future funding:  “This is a story of promoting our successes.” 

Ultimate Goal:  Securing future funding.
Proximate Goal:  Promoting our successes.

Fulfilling the Proximate Goal will lead us to succeeding at the Ultimate Goal.

Try to fill in “This is a story of____” for your ABT using only 3 additional words (focusing on the process) or less.  Do one version for the Ultimate Goal and one version for the Proximate Goal.


Session 5 Resources – Importance of Listening – Adapted from Brian Palermo

Brian Palermo’s ResourcesBrian offers a number of resource videos on his website, some with interactive exercises built in.  Topics include listening, utilizing emotional intelligence, and audience focused communication.  He also offers online improv training to help improve listening and communication skills.

Narrative Blitz – The IF/THEN CLAUSE – Dr. Marissa Metz:

 

Exercise #5 : IF/THEN – The tool of HOPE and FEAR

Send to Dianna before class and then revise after class and send again!

The IF/THEN tool is incredibly powerful at helping to set the stakes and getting very specific. You can use it in the Blue section and it can be a tool for Hope, showing what Heaven could look like it all goes according to plan. Or you can use it for Fear in the Red section, showing how bad Hell can be if everything falls apart.

But what should your IF/THEN be about? To answer that, go back to the optional exercise “This is a story of…” – Processes – Ultimate & Proximate ‘‘ and find your Ultimate and Proximate goals.

Let’s look at the example we used.

Congressional funding is a key requirement for the continuation of important aviation research, and we know that our research allows us to be better able to manage our wildlife habitats and protect endangered species. But program managers don’t feel confident about securing future funding because some research areas are not receiving enough attention. Therefore, we need to effectively promote the proven success in these research areas to secure future funding.

For the example ABT, the goals were:
Ultimate: A story of securing future funding
Proximate: A story of promoting our success.

Now that you have the goals, try crafting them into IF/THEN statements, both positive and negative, and see if you find any variation that has some power.  If it helps, you can put them into the form of questions like the ones below for you to answer:

  • If you can secure future funding, then what happens? (Hope)
  • If you do a good job at promoting our successes, then what happens? (Hope)
  • If you can’t secure future funding, then what happens? (Fear)
  • If you fail to promote our successes, then what happens? (Fear)

Try asking questions like this for your own ABT’s Ultimate and Proximate Goals and see if you can properly set the stakes using the tool of Hope or Fear.

 

Exercise 6 Exercise #6: Past, Present, & Future

There’s a few different variations of the kABT.  We’ll be looking at one of them here, the Past-Present-Future ABT.

Send to Dianna before class and then revise after class and send again!

The Past-Present-Future format isn’t applicable to all topics, but we can experiment and see if it is with yours. For your project, craft the AND in a way to tell the audience what was going on before in your project or your old method for addressing a problem. For the BUT, tell the audience the current problem with the old method of doing things. For the THEREFORE, let us know the solution that you’ll be attempting to implement in the future.

The cABT for a Past-Present-Future ABT might look like: “We were doing this one method for the longest time AND it worked well enough, BUT a new issue came up, THEREFORE now we have to fix it by doing a new thing.”

You could also attempt an IF/THEN in a Past-Present-Future ABT, for example: “We were doing this one method for the longest time AND it worked well enough, BUT a new issue came up and IF we don’t fix it THEN it’s going to get really bad, THEREFORE now we have to fix it by doing a new thing.”

Try filling in the details with your own project and make your own kABT using the Past-Present-Future ABT format.

Or fill in the details with facts about your life to make a Past-Present-Future ABT for introducing yourself at parties or networking events: “I was doing this one thing, BUT then a big issue came up, THEREFORE now I’m focusing on this other thing.”

And you can break out the Past-Present-Future ABT if you’re ever put on the spot by your employer with a question on where you’re at with a project at work.  cABT:  “Well boss, we got all this stuff done and it’s working great, but now we’ve got a new problem, so we’ll be doing a bunch of steps to fix it.”  Fill in the details to that cABT on the fly and your boss should be up to speed on what you’re up to.


Session 6 Resources – Oral Presentations – Meetings, Talks, Seminars

Remember:

  • Developing the text for your oral presentations – is all the same stuff!
  • Have a strong narrative – tell a good story!
  • Write out your talk, and practice so you know it so well you do not need the written script.

 

 How to avoid death By PowerPoint | David JP Phillips:

 

Five Principles of PowerPoint Design from David J.P. Phillips (shorter takeaways of above video):

 

Allan Pease – 4 BLS to give you the edge (~ 4min) – Click here to watch

 

Allan Pease – Power in the palm of your hand ~ 5min:

 

Lynne Franklin – TEDxNapperville:

 

Narrative Blitz – The ABT Moment – Liz Foote:

 

Narrative Blitz – Spoons Vs Shovels – Jayde Lovel:

 

Narrative Blitz – A Dark and Stormy Night for Plastics – Pete Myers:

 

Additional Reading:  

 

Exercise #7: Expected Vs Observed – Leading us to the ideal world

Time to look at a different version of the kABT, the Expected Vs Observed ABT.

Send to Dianna before class and then revise after class and send again!

The Expected Vs Observed ABT isn’t applicable to all topics, but we can experiment and see if it is with yours. For your project, paint a perfect world in the AND in which everything goes right, what you would Expect from your “ideal world.”  Aim for Heaven!

Unlike the Past-Present-Future ABT, this time you’re starting the AND out in the ideal, perfect future, not the past.  A positive IF/THEN in the AND is often helpful here in really driving home what the stakes are if all goes according to plan. 

Then for the BUT, tell us the problem that you’re Observing which is interfering with this perfect world you envisioned in the AND.  Aim for Hell!

Finally, for the THEREFORE, tell us how you’ll lead us out of the problem of the BUT and back to the ideal world of the AND.

(This is often a great ABT for people who work on climate change projects.  Climate change has been such an ongoing problem that it’s a part of our past now, so instead of looking at the climate change ridden past, you’re looking at the ideal future where you’re actively solving the problems of climate change in the AND).

A typical Expected Vs Observed cABT: “We’ve got this great project AND IF everything goes to plan THEN we’ll get all kinds of great benefits BUT right now it’s not working because of a problem THEREFORE we need to fix it by doing some stuff.”

Try filling in the details with your own project and make your own kABT using the Expected Vs Observed ABT format.


Session 7 Resources – Writing Winning Proposals

 

Narrative Blitz – Proposals – Dr. Dianna Padilla:

 

Additional Info:

 

Topics:

  • What to know when submitting a grant
  • How to choose a good place for your proposed work

 

Read:

 

 Exercise #8: We Know This – The proof is in the past

Time for another form of the kABT, the We Know This ABT. Once again, a We Know This ABT isn’t right for every topic, but you can try and see if it is with yours.

A We Know This ABT is similar to a Past-Present-Future ABT, but this time instead of using the AND to look back at an old method that no longer works, we’re going to the past to look at a method We Know that works.

Set the AND at a place where you’ve seen past ideal circumstances that are similar to our current circumstances. We’re reaching back to the past for proof that we’re on the correct track, for evidence that this plan is the correct one.

The BUT typically involves what’s preventing you from using this great plan that’s always worked before.

The THEREFORE is your fix to get you back on track to your perfect tired-and-true plan.

cABT: “WE KNOW this process is important and IF we do it THEN we’ve seen great benefits BUT we can’t use it right now because of a problem THEREFORE we need to fix the problem by doing some things.”

Alternate cABT:  “There’s a thing that’s important and WE KNOW IF we use this process on it THEN we’ve seen great benefits BUT we can’t use it right now because of a problem THEREFORE we need to fix the problem by doing some things.”

Fill in the details and see if you can make a We Know This ABT from your topic.


Session 8 Resources – How to Be a Good Reviewer of Manuscripts and Grant Proposals

Read:

 

When reviewing, be sure to go through each of the sections.

 

Topics:

  • How to respond to Peer Review?
  • Is the review of a grant different?

Session 9 Resources – Topics Not Covered!

Topics not covered that you want to hear about.

Make recommendations early!

 

Additional Narrative Blitz Videos to watch when you have time – they are all great!

Narrative Blitz – “Reductive and Insulting!” – Park Howell:

 

Narrative Blitz – A Fool’s Enterprise – Dr. Patricia Limerick:

 

Narrative Blitz – Misinformation about Misinformation – Dr. Michael Strauss:

 

Narrative Blitz – Cat Wars: The Value of Fiction – Dr. Kirsten Leong:

 

Narrative Blitz – The Social Imperative (to developing narrative) – Dr. Jane Muncke:

 

Narrative Blitz – Narrative Culture for the National Park Service – Cari Kreshak: