Eric May – Media Consultant
  

 

 

 

Communicating science effectively means understanding the audience

It seems the more someone knows about something, the harder it is to imagine anyone else not knowing that. That's why highly educated, technically fluent people often have the most difficulty expressing ideas clearly.

To communicate effectively, the first step is to understand exactly who you are speaking to.

 

For example, when you speak to the news media, you have two audiences:

The mass audience yes, but:

The "true audience" are producers, editors and reporters. These are the people decide to use what scientists say, and how we say it.

If they don’t get it right, the mass audience won’t either. 


Remember, you are the expert

Most journalists are not experts, even those who write for scientific journals. Neither is the general public.

You are the expert (and journalists and the general public expect you to be).

Failure to communicate is always the fault of the communicator.

To communicate effectively, it is essential to express ideas in terms your audience (the journalist or mass audience) understands.