The Science Story: Basic skills and techniques for communicating your research

Lead Faculty: Mark Blaine, Senior Instructor, School of Journalism and Communication

This two-part workshop explored the basics of effectively communicating science to a wide range of audiences, and benefitted students in the sciences and established researchers. Key skills that were addressed were basics of visual communication, simple narrative structures, and application of narrative to a variety of media platforms — from in-person presentation to social media. Particular emphasis was on integrating storytelling into presentations and how those can be a platform for further communication.

The goals for this workshop included:

  • Increased proficiency in presenting ideas
  • Greater connection within and across disciplines, including with campus communicators
  • Understanding different audiences and how to connect with them
  • Basic proficiency in managing a public message

The core skills and techniques that were covered included:

  • Basic story forms
  • Strategies for seeing the story in the information and data
  • Visual storytelling techniques with simple tools like the smartphone
  • Multimedia and multi-platform strategies with an emphasis on the role of social media for researchers
  • Identifying audiences by exploring how science communication appears across media platforms
  • How to build networks with other researchers and communicators who can help you spread your story

Further workshops are under development to more deeply focus on some of these topics, including social media, framing stories, simple story production and integrating storytelling into innovation and invention.

The workshop covered:

Stories and structures

  • Basic and very familiar form
  • Present-Past-Future
  • What to look for and how it maps to what you’re already doing


  • Discussion of the challenges of communicating science
  • Evidence of the value of communicating science and of scientists’ involvement
  • Brief touch on research directions (National Academy of Sciences agenda from 2017)

People and science

  • Interviewing methods for story
  • The right and relevant details
  • When, how and if you should be part of the story
  • Audiences

Platforms and media

  • Text, audio, image, video
  • Traditional and social media
  • Daily life media interaction from Instagram to Powerpoint