Standing, or as of late sitting in front of a screen, and presenting to people can oftentimes be exciting, dreadful, or a mix of both. Whether people are enthusiastic to share about what they discovered, or have a fear they may make a fool of themselves. Whatever the case, presenting, and therefore communicating topics and ideas is important not just for us conducting research but for everyday life. We could be presenting at a seminar of people within our field, or trying to teach someone younger than us who has little to no foundation of the topic we know so well. Communication is all about understanding your audience and how one best adapts to those situations to explain what they know to others.
When presenting to a general audience you could have clusters of people from all walks of life, those who understand every last bit of professional jargon to those who may have no formal training or education in the field. Especially in science, it’s best to steer away from using too complex of jargon. Jargon is, in my experience the best way to lose an audience and potentially not get them back. Being trained as an EMT and as such in the ways to communicate health and science topics to people who most likely don’t know much about it, the best is to explain everything in as quick and as simple of a way as possible. This way confusion is avoided by keeping ideas and words clear and separate.
Overall the best strategy I like to incorporate is assuming people know nothing but treating them like they know what I know. This mindset keeps me from talking too fast as to not overwhelm people with new words or ideas. It also keeps me from words that may be aggressive or portray me as talking down to my audience, helping to reinforce an idea of inclusivity in my presentations. I also keep in mind to further explain ideas and conclusions that might not be fully obvious to the audience.
As someone who is working towards attending medical school, it is critical for me to understand how to communicate to audiences who may not understand all the medical jargon or even medical conditions that will I know. The likelihood of me talking to a colleague, outside researcher, and patient all in the same day are very high. As such it is important to keep an active mind to know when to switch between different communication styles. When I was training to be an EMT an important piece of advice that was given to me was to focus on empathy, from the pain their feeling to the fear they may feel. As a future medical scientist, it is up to me to communicate to my patients the treatments and how they may affect them in both positive and negative ways. Currently, with my research, there is a great potential to benefits those with ocular diseases. But a big part of that is communicating to the public that eventually receiving an injection that contains a virus won’t actually be harmful but instead could lead to the benefit of millions around the world.
Communication is hard, especially when people may share different ingrained viewpoints that may contradict what one is saying. But the best thing is to treat people always like they’re your equal and fulfill their curiosity. Answer their questions, be enthusiastic and kind and cultivate an environment that feels inclusive to anyone who may know everything or nothing.