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How Improvisational Acting Improves Your Communication Skills

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How Improv Improves Science Communication

A challenge facing STEM graduate students (post-docs, researchers, etc.) is the daunting task of communicating their research to a non-specialist audience. Too much jargon, too many details, and too little attention given to the message. These strategies – marginal in the lab group setting – do not work in the real world. Ideally, scientists should directly connect with any audience, responding spontaneously and actively, distilling their messages into conversational morsels that resonate with their audience. Improvisational acting is a tool scientists can use to raise their game. The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science (Stony Brook University), pioneers of a curriculum that uses a foundation of improvisational theater concepts and practice to improve how young scientists communicate with the public, recently partnered with Dartmouth to create a similar course for its science graduate students.

To learn more, visit the American Geophysical Union’s “The Plainspoken Scientist” blog and read a recent post from Dartmouth IGERT Fellow and amateur improv player Gifford Wong. Dartmouth’s Polar Environmental Change IGERT Program provides an ideal environment for researchers from different disciplines to hone their skills in broad-audience science communication, from the cohort-led annual science retreats to their field seminar in Greenland.