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COMMUNICATE YOUR SCIENCE also offers a dispersed group of experienced science communicators for virtual or on-campus training.
Many scientific societies such as the Society for Neuro- science (see, the American Geophysical Union (see, and the Association for Research in Oto- laryngology (see hold science communication workshops as part of their annual conferences or offer online classes throughout the year. The Portal to the Public program (see offers training and outreach opportunities at science museums around the country; this program is also a great fit for the Broader Impacts component of an NSF grant.
Creative scientists can also tap local communication resources. I started my communication journey by joining a Toastmasters club (see Community colleges and universities offer public speaking courses. Local theater groups offer opportunities to practice com- munication skills through improvisational theater classes. These classes may seem scary, but after fumbling your way through a scene using the words “hang gliding” and “golden retriever” as your only cues, imagine your confi- dence when you tackle a talk about your area of expertise! Challenge yourself to try a communication experience out- side of science, then use your new skills and confidence in your science communication activities.
Finally, there are many organizations that cater to spe- cific subsets of science communicators. Students can join communities such as ComSciCon (see or SciCommers (see to con- nect with other early-career scientists. Another resource is Science Talk, the professional society for science com- municators, which hosts an annual conference and year-round online courses and activities. Many regions also offer local science communication groups, such as the Science Communicators of North Carolina (see or the Capital Science Communicators in Sacramento, California (see These independent resources complement formal training programs to create a holistic environment.
Last Words About Science Communication
Science communication isn’t just about engaging with nontechnical audiences. Let’s respect our fellow scientists and put our communication skills to use in our conference and departmental presentations. I am not saying that we
use the same language for our peers as we would for a school group; jargon has a place when we all understand the meaning. However, technical talks are often given with- out enthusiasm or humanity. We did the work; if we aren’t excited about it, why should our audience care? I once had a colleague (I will not mention names) who threatened to give an ASA meeting talk about whale bioacoustics entirely using whale song rather than human speech. I don’t rec- ommend this approach, but he had an unusual idea to grab his audience’s attention! There are stories behind our sci- ence; maybe you had a unique encounter with a bear while trying to record birdsong in Alaska or met a multilingual research subject with a fascinating personal story. At the next ASA meeting, try injecting more of your personality and enthusiasm into your talk.
My hope is that this article is the start of a conversation as we each explore new ways to bring acoustics to life and communicate authentically. Share your experiences and not just your success! Tweet out your science com- munication experiences using #AcousticSciComm to join the conversation. For further information about science communication, read the essays in Acoustics Today by Jones (2017, 2020, 2021) and Piacsek (2020).
Thanks to Tamasen Hayward for her expert editing of this article.
American Academy of Arts & Sciences (2020). The Public Face of Sci- ence in America: Priorities for the Future. American Academy of Arts & Sciences, Cambridge, MA.
Atema, J. (2014). Musical origins and the stone age evolution of flutes. Acoustics Today 10(3), 26-34.
Bartel, B., Agopian, M., and Bohon, W. (2019). The unexpected ben- efits of science communication training. EOS 100. Available at
Block, D. (2020). Why STEM needs to focus on social justice. Washington Monthly. Available at
Burns, T. W., O’Connor, D. J., and Stocklmayer, S. M. (2003). Science communication: A contemporary definition. Public Understanding of Science 12, 183-202.
Fiske, S. T., and Dupree, C. (2014). Gaining trust as well as respect in communicating to motivated audiences about scientific topics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 111(Suppl. 4), 13593-13597.
Green, S. J., Grorud-Colvert, K., and Mannix, H. (2018). Uniting science and stories: Perspectives on the value of storytelling for com- municating science. FACETS 3, 164-173.
Jones, L. K. (2017). ASA education and outreach program. Acoustics Today 13(4) , 69-71. Available at
Jones, L. K. (2020). Science communication training. Acoustics Today 16(1), 73-74. Available at
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