115 Climate Science Storytelling: Crafting Better Public Messages about Your Work

Monday, 7 January 2019
Hall 4 (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Katy Vincent Matthews, NOAA/NESDIS/National Centers for Environmental Information, Asheville, NC; and G. Hammer, J. Fulford, S. Osborne, B. E. Mayes, D. S. Arndt, J. Crouch, and T. Maycock

Everyone loves a good story, yet climate science doesn’t always easily lend itself to good storytelling. Often, scientific work can be difficult to explain, hampering the public’s understanding of its importance. Learn several techniques to hone your skills to better deliver the message and successfully communicate your findings and their potential implications. General audiences understand storytelling because it builds a familiar structure: beginning, middle, and end. Framing scientific work as an investigation can help. We’ll cover ways to build the basics and craft a compelling story about your work:
  • Introduce your study with an anecdote that links your audience to the science topic
    • Did an event or series of events spark your curiosity or demand attention? A heat wave? A hurricane? Capitalize on the human-interest aspects.
  • Describe what’s new in your climate science investigation
    • Has your data improved? Have you created a new model for understanding a phenomenon? Asked a new question? Confirmed or debunked a weather or climate theory?
  • Tell people why they should care
    • Is increased clear-day tidal flooding expected? More drought? Pinpoint who or what could be most affected.
    • Ensure you are speaking to the audience’s interests versus your own interests.
  • Offer a balcony viewpoint
    • Your dataset or methodology may excite you, but a non-scientific crowd doesn’t want to see backstage.
  • Use relatable examples, if possible, as teachable moments
    • We will share several climate science examples where ongoing events can be used as a moment to add climate literacy
  • Reiterate the most important takeaways
    • Offer three main messages, repeat as necessary
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