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“If you cannot explain it simply, you do not understand it well enough.” — Albert Einstein.
This course uses techniques from the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science to help professionals learn to effectively communicate research, science and scholarship clearly and vividly to a variety of audiences. We will focus on a range of fundamental skills, through discussion and practice, to aid participants in connecting with and engaging an audience, speaking clearly and conversationally, and facilitating inclusive and captivating atmospheres. In a supportive, low-stress environment, participants will practice theatre-based exercises to learn to connect authentically with others in order to influence or inspire them toward a desired action or behavior. We will explore elements from theatre training–mindfulness, physical and vocal control, improvisation and flexibility—in order to build presence and expressiveness. Participants will work together to remove jargon and distill complex concepts into engaging, accessible material that translates across sectors and through a variety of communication mediums.
The course will culminate in an “Insight Cafe” in which participants will present their polished presentations to an invited audience and participate in discussion about the importance of effective communication in our disciplines.
Participants will learn:
- to focus their attention on the needs of the audience, reading verbal and non-verbal cues, and responding with flexibility and adaptability;
- the ability to use storytelling techniques effectively, including evoking emotion, using clear vivid language, and making personal connections where appropriate;
- the basics in planning, developing and delivering an engaging presentation/talk;
- relationship building techniques through empathy, listening and authentic connection;
- the ability to express feelings and emotions appropriately by using all available means – words, voice, body, and face—to deliver a congruent message.
A background in a science, engineering, mathematics or a health discipline is required. Students should have a talk or presentation in mind that they want to work on over the course of the week.
Students should dress in comfortable clothes which allows for free, confident movement.
Lois McCloskey, DrPH
Associate Professor of Community Health Sciences for BU School of Public Health