Identifying compelling topics

Provoking the audience’s imagination is effective. But what aspects of your work will spark some interest?

Consider that elements of the scientific method you as a researcher might not consider particularly interesting, might in fact be quite interesting for audiences, such as:

  • “Why do we know this, and we don’t know that?”
  • “How” things were discovered, not “what” was discovered
  • “Where ideas come from” for example, on holiday, walking to the store, just before falling asleep… anywhere where it’s not “forced”
  • “What we still don’t know”
  • Bitter rivalries in science
  • Show how accidents, miscalculations and chance all played a role in significant discoveries


  • What are the results so far and how did they happen?
  • Memorable design or iconic/beautiful imagery
  • What’s at stake, what will change, what will be confirmed if the “mystery” is solved?
  • Connect with your humanity and curiosity. Why did the researcher pursue this line of inquiry? Why does the researcher keep doing it after all these years?
  • When is “what you don’t know” an advantage in scientific research? “Discoveries happen when you admit your ignorance.”