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Stories are a great way to share the excitement of sci-
ence and inspire the next generation. K-12 teachers are
often looking for scientists to come to their classes and
talk about what we do. These are amazing opportuni- Atema about prehistoric flutes (see Atema, 2014, in
ties, particularly for students, to show that scientists come from diverse backgrounds and experiences. In a classroom, stories are paramount. How did you first get interested in your field? What successes and failures have you encountered during your career?
When I give talks to high-school groups, I often share that I didn’t get into grad school the first time I applied. This apparent failure is a pivotal moment in my own sci- entific story; I wasn’t admitted to the programs I thought
Acoustics Today). Atema showed us different bone flutes and then played them. I still remember this talk years later for the haunting notes of each instrument and the unique stories he shared about how he discovered ways to play the ancient instruments.
I am not saying we should never use slides; they are great visual aids for the right opportunity. For example, giving a Science Café talk about ultrasonic communication by mam- mals (see the Acoustics Today article by Kruger et al., 2021)? In that case, you’ll want a few slides with pictures of those mammals or, better yet, embedded videos showing mice or bats engaged in acoustic communication behaviors. Talking
I wanted but instead discovered Art Popper’s research
and joined his lab for my PhD, changing the direction
of my research career. Talk to your local school teachers
aboutopportunitiestoshareyoursciencestoryorvol- toseniorcitizensabouthearingaidtechnology?Yourslides
unteer with Skype a Scientist to connect with students around the world (see
A Note About Slides
Not all talks need slides. I’ll say that again, not all talks need slides! As scientists, our instinct is often to launch PowerPoint, Keynote, or our other favorite slide software and immediately start pulling up old talks, rearranging slides, and creating new ones.
Instead, just like we should tailor our presentation to the needs of our audience, we should design any visual aids
could show basic diagrams of some different technologies and cost comparisons to aid consumers.
If you choose to use slides, I highly recommend showing them to the event organizers or a nonspecialist friend to check the clarity and ease of understanding. As scientists, we are accustomed to taking in large amounts of information through complicated graphs. For nonspecialist audiences, graphs can sometimes reduce clarity rather than increasing it. A simple bar chart with two or three bars can be a great way to make a point but a graph overlaying audiograms of several species can get confusing. And please, don’t use a table. Tables are great for technical publications but, in my opinion, have no place in a talk. Not even a conference talk.
You can argue this point with me later.
Where to Find Training
An increasing number of US universities now offer science communication training. For example, some universities have courses specifically for graduate stu- dents, whereas others hold in-house workshops or offer science communication certificates or degrees. Courses and certificates are generally geared for graduate stu- dents, but faculty can also benefit from workshops and may find them a welcome break from endless meetings! Universities without internal training programs can hire professionals from organizations such as the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science (see, AAAS (see, orCOMPASS( to lead training events. The Scicomm Trainers Network (see
with that specific audience in mind. Sometimes, it is best to leave the visuals out entirely and just tell a story. As a graduate student, I attended an evening talk by Jelle
  Figure 3. Classic story arc. In the beginning of a story, we describe the setting and characters. Then the action starts, rising toward a climax. Finally, the issue e.g., (quest, need for data) is resolved. Red words show how Olson’s (2015) ABT concept (see Figure 2) applies within a story framework.
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