Knowing is NOT Enough

  1. Know your target audience
  2. Make eye contact with the audience
  3. Define the key message
  4. Use body language
  5. Speak clearly
  6. Make take home messages
  7. Never memorize or read from a script
  8. Manage your time
  9. Avoid “Umm…” “Amm…”
  10. Practice, practice and practice

These are just a few key points you need to remember when you do your presentation.  I learnt them from the Community Presentation class at University of Western Australia.  However, even though I know these problem-solving approaches, I still do not have a lot of confidence when presenting in front of an audience.

Katherine E. R. (1994) mentioned in her paper that the guidelines on risk communication for practitioners and scholars have limitations.  In her paper, she describes a structure of discovering communication objectives, specifying the basic difficulties of these goals, and selecting research-based methods for getting over or minimizing these obstacles and achieving the communication goals.

Knowing the rules for risk communication makes it easier for us to communicate with people but I do still agree with Katherine that this is not enough.  English is my second language, so that makes it even harder for me to communicate or present to people, especially if the subject was about a specific scientific or political topic.  However, since my goal is to be a science communicator, I need the skill to talk to people in a way everyone can understand.

So, in my case, the problem is having presentations and the objective is improving my English.  To minimize this difficulty, I can do pre-presentation to my Canadian friends and get advice from them before my actual presentation.

I would like to hear your opinions and any other advices please.

Reference: Rowan, K. E. 1994. Why rules for risk communication are not enough: a problem-solving approach to risk communication. Risk Analysis 14(3)369-374

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4 comments so far

  1. Jessica Ho on

    I agree with the list of pointers at the top – it is important that we do know and practice all that when doing a presentation. But I also personally believe that if you are extremely enthusiastic, interested, and well-versed in a particular topic, speaking or presenting or communicating that topic to others (no matter who the audience may be), will be almost a piece of cake. Pictures can also be used instead of excessive words. Like they say, a picture paint a thousand words. They don’t have any language barriers. (:

    • keikok on

      Thanks for your comment Jessica and I agree with the points you listed.
      Picture is worth a thousand words. But we need to be careful which one to show or people might get miss perception from the picture.
      You must have seen this photo taken by Kevin Carter who won Pulitzer Prize.
      http://pulitzerprize.org/photography/kevin-carter-1994/
      I get so shocked every time I see this photo. I think he definitely was one of the greatest science communicator.
      However, he suicide because of the pressures from the others saying “Why didn’t you help her before taking a photo!?”
      Here are the huge different perceptions. Some think he did great job to show the world that Sudan need a help but others think he was an evil not saving her immediately (Actually, his colleagues were there to help her)…

  2. Aaron Cull on

    Risk communication is no different to other forms of communication. We could know all the facts in the world about the risks associated with a study but if we cannot speak about it in public with confidence then people will not take in our message. We have to be like politicians and stand firm in debates and answer questions without pause in order for people to listen or believe in our message.

    • keikok on

      Thank you for your comment Aaron.
      I agree with you saying that we need to have a confident with what we say.
      To have a confident, enough research about the topic is essential.
      If I didn’t know about the subject deep enough, I am pretty sure that I would look stupid in front of the audiences. Same as politicians, they need to know enough about the politics to communicate the lay people but most of them are failing… As we are the science communicator to explain the science to the public, don’t you think we need government communicator to explain us the politics nor, am I asking them too much!?


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