Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 9:15 AM


SZYMANSKI, David W., Department of Natural & Applied Sciences, Bentley University, 175 Forest St, Waltham, MA 02452,

There is no question that science communication with a lay audience is important, especially given the impact that scientists can have on informing debate about public policy and science funding. Climate change, for example, has become the dominant geoscience issue of our time, underscoring the importance of science literacy nationally and globally. While the expectation that scientists should be able to translate their science for public consumption is becoming increasingly common, finding time and motivation to train for live interviews is daunting. For many scientists, the idea of speaking to the policy implications of their science, which tend to be inherently unscientific, can reduce the prospect of engaging in this kind of science communication to marginal at best. However, beyond contributing to the communal good, there are professional benefits to media outreach activities, even for early-career scientists, who are often encouraged to use their time for more ostensibly productive activities.

There are excellent resources on communicating science and preparing for both print and live interviews, including a number through the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and other professional organizations. However, after some initial preparation, the best training is done on-the-job. Live media interviews present unique challenges for good science communication, given the typically abbreviated time for responses and the real – and sometimes perceived – cultural differences between interviewers and scientists. From the perspective of a scientist new to live interviews, there are three critical aspects to meeting these challenges: (1) formulating a clear message, (2) using intelligible scientific talking points in a popular context, (3) and developing responses that fit the interview style. Understanding these aspects can help geoscientists prepare for a successful first interview on policy-related topics.